18+ Onward Reviews – Props to Disney, But Ban In Middle East over Lesbian Character Shows Intolerance Still Lives In 2020

Onward ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

During my review I intentionally avoided mentioning the one-eyed lesbian cop. She was just another character, barely supporting really, but for a Disney movie of all things to acknowledge LGBTQ is a promising step in the right direction. We’re going to be seeing a gay superhero in The Eternals sharing the first gay superhero kiss later this year.

Hopefully within the next 5-10 years LGBTQ will be featured as high profile characters in major movies and few to none will make a big deal out of it. I’m adding a bit to the (bad) chorus by mentioning it here, but am doing it because I want it to be more like when African americans became commonplace in movie roles other than as servants, slaves and prisoners.

Multiple Middle Eastern markets have banned the Disney/Pixar animated movie “Onward” for featuring an explicitly lesbian character.

Disney’s ‘Onward’ Banned In Middle East Over Lesbian Character | The Daily Wire

You can read the article to see which Middle Eastern countries banned Onward. Russia asked for a small dialogue change, but those of you elsewhere can enjoy the movie and the lesbian character that breezes by so fast you’ll hardly notice she is even there.

It’s time to dig even deeper into the newest Disney/Pixar movie, so if you haven’t seen yet, then might want to come back to this post later, as SPOILERS follow.

… you have been warned SPOILERS ahead …

All Hail The Manticore

My favorite character is the Manticore, voiced by Octavia Spencer. She runs this tavern styled like a D&D adventure game, which plays a pivotal role in the brother’s quest for the gem. The Manticore has a nice subplot and character arc. Spencer’s voice acting is solid, charismatic and humorous. You’ll laugh at the Manticore’s lines. She reminded me, in spirit, of Donkey (Eddie Murphy) in Shrek, though she’s not as quippy.

How the main voice actors (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) recorded the dialogue — facing each other.

The Bottom Half of Dad is Deliciously Bizarre

Roald Dahl would have loved the below-the-waistline Dad character. He’s the right kind of quirk and zaniness. Several times in the theater people laughed at the lower-half human dancing, bumping into objects, and just moving around. The boys dress up Half Dad.


The quest isn’t quite as dramatic as it could have been. There is talk of a curse that never comes to pass. There could have been more risks, perhaps a character having some sort of tragedy.

I was also a little bummed out by the ending in that both boys didn’t get a chance to see Dad, nor did we get to hear what Dad told the one brother who did get to see him. So much build-up and this payoff unrealized seemed like just too much of an audience tease.

This was a fun movie for me to watch one time, but it doesn’t have much rewatch value to me. In fairness, most animated movies are one and done affairs for me, simply because the genre isn’t hugely attractive to me. There are exceptions, like some of The Simpsons episodes and Harley Quinn, mostly because they pack so darn much comedy into a short amount of time the viewer needs to rewatch to catch every single gag.

Onward isn’t that type of animated film. It’s more simplistic in the comedy and story-driven. Once you’ve seen the quest, the desire to watch it again just isn’t as much fun.

Reviews by Others

Let’s see what others think about Onward.


  1. alexlynch695 / David A. Lynch: “There are flashes of ingenuity that occasionally rise above the general lack of storytelling risk, including one exhilarating sequence that sees the boys trying to escape a hardened gang of spiked collar-wearing fairies”
  2. Cinerama Film Online / Neil Baker (4.5/5): “Paying homage to Indiana JonesDungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings in every scene. While its stunning animation leaps from the screen, wrapping the audience in a blanket of beautiful orchestrated fantasy.”
  3. Critical Hit / Sam Spiller: “I can’t say that I really want to view Onward a second time. It is a very competently made, gorgeous-looking and well-executed kids film. With so much garbage aimed at a younger audience out there, I’m glad the bar is set so high with Pixar films. This one just doesn’t go far above it.”
  4. Darren / the m0vie blog: “…is consistently fun throughout its runtime. As with a lot of Pixar films, the animation is top notch and there is a great deal of care in the way that the world is put together”
  5. DiscussingFilm: “…might not offer anything too new, but it is still a wonderfully solid addition to Pixar’s already-impressive resume”
  6. Duffy Reviews / Oscar Duffy (8.5/10): “…is a fantastic addition to the Pixar canon, boasting an immensely smart and visually stunning story”
  7. filmfanstake: “At first it functions like any adventure film would. You’re thinking it’s going to be conventional, in some ways it is. However if you have a brother this movie will feel special to you.”
  8. For The Love of Movies / Olly Dyche: “This movie is for me one of Disneys greats and an instant classic, with its excellent stroy, pitch perfect voice cast and exciting imagery.”
  9. Frank Lourence: “This is a Pixar film but other than the heart felt moments, it actually felt more like Dreamwork with a lot of humor and references.”
  10. Irfan Nordin (8.5/10): “It may suffer in comparison to Pixar’s classics, but Onward makes effective use of the studio’s formula and stands on its own merits as a funny, heartwarming, dazzlingly animated adventure”
  11. Major Film Reviews / Nathan Major: “There’s enough to recommend here, but it’s not their best, is what I’m trying to say. Worth a look for certain, but I doubt it’ll be one you’ll revisit time and time again.”
  12. Movie Metropolis / Adam Brannon: “While Onward won’t be troubling the very top ranks of the studio’s filmography, it definitely won’t be troubling the bottom rungs of that ladder either.”
  13. M.N Miller / Ready Steady Cut: “…is a sweetly funny and engrossing animated adventure. Scanlon’s screenplay captures endearing themes of fathers and sons, deep regret, and second chances that are universal for everyone”
  14. Music City Drive-in: “…is the step back in the right direction for Pixar that shows us the magic lost and the wonders it takes to find them. The animation is beautiful, and Chris Pratt and Tom Holland both are excellent breathing life into their characters.”
  15. That Shelf / Courtney Small: “…is filled with its share of up and downs, but it is ultimately a satisfying quest worth taking.”
  16. The Movie and Me / jeddthejedi (3.5/5): “…plot may be an old-fashioned hero’s journey and its fantasy elements might be familiar even though they’re blended with modern day trappings, but there’s sincerity and joy in this tale of brotherhood and bereavement. This is not quite Pixar’s best, but it’s still going to find a devoted audience.”
  17. X-Geeks: “a classic Pixar film. It delivers fun and frolics whilst conveying a really lovely message and gives us two leading characters that I definitely want to see more from.”

Not Recommended (or on the fence)

  1. The Illuminerdi: “…has been gestating for 6 years, and while the love and care put into the film are evident on the screen, the end result still could have used more time.”
  2. Matthew Paul’s Movie Reviews: “…is a good movie; it is entertaining and creative in certain parts, but its use of the same formula that Disney and Pixar films have relied on for the last ten-plus years is starting to grow tiresome.”

Linked above and wondering what would be the cool thing to do next? Commenting once in awhile is always good (I like reader and other blogger interaction). If you have the trackback/pingback come to your site then just approve it because after people read your review then they can come here and follow links and read someone else’s review. What comes around goes around and sharing is the ultimate “thank you!” on the internet.

Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quoting from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.

Happy movie watching!


Week #10 of 2020 (3/5-3/8/2020) sees the first Disney/Pixar animated film of the year about a brotherly quest to bring back their father for one magical day and Ben Affleck wrestling sobriety demons and coaching a losing basketball team.

Although I didn’t verify, but I believe this is the first week with multiple movies playing in 2020 that both movies have been recommended.

The coronavirus continues to dominate the news with wide impact in international markets, including the news that Bond #25 No Time To Die has been pushed back from April to November 2020. Hopefully a vaccine will be created/discovered before too much longer or flu season will end the widespread concerns.

Back to a brighter topic, which movie this week takes the crown?

#1 is ….

Onward ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 

The is a heartwarming, teen brotherly story with the right touch of humor and substance. The story is quirky and unusual, which is why we liked it so much.

UPDATE 8:19am PST: Just remembered when checking out other reviews from those I subscribe to at Letterboxd that before Onward played, there was a new Simpsons animated short featuring a romance for Maggie called Playdate with Destiny ⭐️⭐️½  Got to see this twice because of a theater screw-up (see my Onward review for details), but it’s not a very memorable or fun Simpsons short. Cute, though.

The Way Back ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Although Ben Affleck has had dramatic acting roles, this serious story really pits him against himself and the parallels in his personal life and his character’s life are profound. I think he really gets into his character better, drawing on his own well publicized issue of his break-up with Jennifer Garner and struggles with sobriety. It’s the best acting I’ve seen from him in quite some time.

The story is a little cliched and runs long in parts, but it’s a very meaty role for Affleck and he delivers.

Want to see what else we recommend NOW PLAYING at the theater?

Here are other movies we’ve seen at the theaters recently and liked (maybe they are available in your area still) that are recommended. Any movie rated at least 3-stars is recommended. You should read any 3-star review (click the title), because sometimes we do qualify those recommendations, meaning we were entertained, but it doesn’t mean that the film was that good.

4-star movies are highly recommended and films rated as 4 1/2 or 5 stars are must see.

  1. 1917 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 
  2. Onward ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ (current week) 
  3. Sonic The Hedgehog ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  4. Bad Boys For Life ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  5. The Way Back ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (current week)
  6. The Call Of The Wild ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  7. Bad Boys For Life ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Happy movie watching to you!

Opening 3-5-2020 in Theaters: Onward, The Way Back, First Cow

Wednesday! Week #10 of 2020 (3/5-3/8/2020).

This week we get an animated treat from Pixar involving a search for the top half of their father so they can spend one day with him, a basketball coach tries to rehabilitate his drinking problem and his team, and a movie about — and don’t have one (who knows where that comes from: “Don’t have a cow, man.”?) — a cow.

Yes, a cow.

But, first, let’s go …


Onward official trailer #1
Onward official trailer #2

First and foremost we want to be entertained and Pixar has a proven track record of producing entertaining films. The story here seems quirky and offbeat, but not cliched. Looking very forward to watching this one.

Anticipation for Onward: 7/10

The Way Back

The Way Back official trailer #1
The Way Back official trailer #2

Ben Affleck has been in some good movies and he’s got the acting chops, but this alcoholic former basketball player turned coach story could go either way for me. It doesn’t look like the team is going to have the personality or comedy of The Bad News Bears and this doesn’t seem like Hoosiers either.

Anticipation for The Way Back: 5/10

First Cow

When I wrote the COMING SOON for this movie, my anticipation was 0/10. I find the whole idea of watching a movie about a cow similar to watching paint dry, however, I’ve been wrong about movies I’ve expected to strongly dislike, so I’m bumping my anticipation up from zero to one. Surprise me, cow. MOoove me. Yeah, yeah, stop throwing the rotten banana peels.

Anticipation for First Cow: 1/10

ANTICIPATION for Week #10: 3/5/20 MOVIES

How much on scale of 1-10 anticipating the 3-5-2020 movies?

  1. Onward – 7/10
  2. The Way Back – 5/10
  3. First Cow – 1/10

Are there screenings in our area to see these movies?

We’re going to be in Las Vegas this week, not our home area, so we’ll be checking out screenings there. We’re planning on seeing Onward in 4DX + 3D and The Way Back in standard 2D format, but have not found if First Cow is playing anywhere nearby. At least two of the three will be watched, rated and reviewed.

Upcoming Movies Watchlist in 4DX at Red Rock Regal Cinema Las Vegas + D-BOX and DFX Experience Search

Showing on Wednesday 3/4/2020 at Red Rock Regal Cinema in 4DX

The Regal Red Rock movie theater opened in May 2019. We last visited Las Vegas in September to experience the theater and this week will be visiting there again.

Our goal is to see two movies at least in 4DX format. The first will be the animated My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising.

The second, Onward, will premiere on Thursday 3/5/2020 in 4DX 3D at 9:30pm.

Then we’re coming home on Saturday and Kara flies back to Vegas on Sunday for business. I’ll be joining her a week later for vacation and hoping to catch another new release in 4DX, this one a sequel I’m looking very forward to:

Showing on Thursday 3/19/2020 at Red Rock Regal Cinema in 4DX

Hopefully, we can catch another bonus 4DX showing or two, if they are available. The week between my Vegas visits, four new movies are being widely released: Bloodshot (why isn’t that in 4DX?), The Hunt, My Spy and I Still Believe. Two, Bloodshot and My Spy, arguably three (if you include The Hunt) could be the type of movie that would work well in 4DX format.

As I search around the Bloodshot film. It is being offered in the following formats:

D-BOX? What is that? Cousin of XBox?

Had to do a double-take on “D-BOX” because that isn’t a format I’m familiar with (see: Different Enhanced Screening Audio and Video Theater Experiences). Google to the rescue.

The official D-BOX website: http://tech.d-box.com/entertainment/ has the details.

D-BOX redefines and creates hyper-realistic, immersive entertainment experiences by moving the body and sparking the imagination through motion. This expertise is one of the reasons why D-BOX have collaborated with some of the best companies in the world to deliver new ways to enhance great stories. Whether it’s movies, video games, virtual reality applications, themed entertainment or professional simulation, D-BOX mission is to move the world.

About D-BOX

The format has been around longer than 4DX, but is similar, at least in how the seats move based upon activity in the movie. A Google search brought up several Las Vegas area theaters — not Regal, it seems — showing movies in D-BOX format, including at least one dinner theater! Yay.

Google Map search results for “D-BOX theaters in Las Vegas

Adding this to my to-do list to possibly see Bloodshot in D-BOX. Maybe some theater somewhere in Las Vegas offers a D-BOX movie experience.

Sonic is showing in Las Vegas in D-BOX format … this is a strong possibility too!

Just when you think as a moviegoer you might know all the formats, there is another format screening:

What is DFX format? I don’t know, but it’s at the same theater as Sonic in D-BOX format

DFX is Dolby Atmos sound in Galaxy theaters.

Can’t say we’ve ever been to a Galaxy theater and listening to Dolby Atmos sound is on the list. We have seen RPX format at Regal (see: First Ever RPX Experience Review Terminator: Dark Fate) which is a variation on the format.

Looks like we’ll have several titles in multiple different formats to explore and experience while in Las Vegas. I’ve made a preliminary list including when and where these special format movies are showing while we’re in town.

List of movies to see in special formats (if possible) while visiting Las Vegas

  • WED 3/4/2020 – My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising – 4DX @ Red Rock Regal Theater
  • THU 3/5/2020 – Onward – 4DX + 3D @ Red Rock Regal Theater
  • THU 3/5/2020 – Sonic The Hedgehog – D-BOX @ Galaxy Theater
  • THU 3/5/2020 – The Invisible Man – DFX @ Galaxy Theater
  • Bloodshot – D-BOX ???
  • THU 3/19/2020 – A Quiet Place Part II – 4DX @ Red Rock Regal Theater

Do you like seeing movies in special formats? Which one do you prefer? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Have You Checked Out 4DX Yet? 2019 Was Record Year

Movies in 4DX format available in March and April 2020

Remember back in September when we shared our first 4DX viewing experience? See: Awesome 4DX First Experience Watching Rambo: Last Blood

4DX had a record year in 2019, according to Variety, and well-deservedly.

CJ 4DPLEX, the company behind multi-sensory 4DX cinema technology, has announced that it had a record-breaking 2019, grossing more than £246 million ($320 million) for 4DX worldwide.

4DX High-Tech Cinemas Break Box Office Records in 2019 – Variety

Yes, we thought the experience was excellent. It certainly made Rambo: Last Blood more entertaining with dripping overhead, various scents sprayed in the air, a slow swaying boat-like movement and more.

Next month we’ll be back in Las Vegas, this time staying at the River Rock Casino, home of the only 4DX theater in Vegas. The next movie we’ll likely be seeing in 4DX is …

Onward opens wide in theaters on March 6, 2020 — we’re planning to watch in 4DX


We do have a Regal 4DX theater in downtown Seattle, but traffic downtown and parking is a nightmare, so not somewhere we’ll likely be going. Too bad, because we both really enjoyed the format and think it has the power to elevate the entertainment experience.

Have you seen a movie in 4DX yet? Are you planning to soon? Is there a theater near you that has 4DX? Let’s discuss in the comments.



Looks like the first high quality animated wide release film of the year. I don’t know what it is but Pixar films just have a certain sharpness to their animation that is almost immediately recognizable. A signature sound like many music artists have only graphically.

Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney-Pixar’s “Onward” introduces two teenage elf brothers who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Info
Onward first official trailer

Here is trailer #2:

Onward official trailer #2

The plot for this one seems different enough to draw me in. The quest to get the other half of their father has comedic value. Looking forward to this one. Who else is looking forward to seeing this?

Onward opens wide in theaters on March 6, 2020.

9 Movies COMING TO THEATERS in March 2020

Movies coming to theaters in March 2020 (some pictured are coming other months)

NOTE: This post will continue to be updated until the end of March 2020, as movie release dates change, sometimes within weeks of the scheduled release date

The following are movie trailers and my early thoughts for all films tentatively scheduled coming to theaters in March 2020.

2020 Theater Releases
JAN | FEB | MARCH 2020

If you’d like to see a list of all movies released in 2020 click here (that post is being updated throughout the year). Most releases profiled below are WIDE screenings showing on 2,000+ theater screens in the United States. If the movie title has the word LIMITED following then it means it’s being released on less than 2,000 screenings in the United States.

All movie release dates unless otherwise indicated are for the United States, the release dates in other countries may vary.

March 2020 Movies

First Cow – LIMITED from A24

First Cow official trailer (A24) – opens March 6, 2020

LOL. I keep laughing while watching this trailer.

A movie about a … cow? They are like the most passive, boring animals on the planet. They move around lethargically and “moo!” all the time, eat grass and, well, provide a very awesome supply of milk. We wouldn’t have cheese or milk without cows, so god bless ’em, but a movie about a “first” cow?

Don’t know. It’s got to be a 0/10 for anticipation from me. That’s a first on this blog, as I’ve not been as disinterested in seeing any movie like this one.

The only reason it’s even here is because it is from the studio A24, that has released some surprisingly good movies. It’s a LIMITED release, which means I might not even see it pass through the theaters in this area, but maybe others reading this will. And can’t help but be at least a tiny bit curious based on the boring subject matter.

A movie about a cow .. yeah, ok, maybe it should be 10/10 for anticipation because, honestly, in the many thousands of movies I’ve seen in 40+ years of watching movies, I can’t remember seeing even one about a cow.

Didn’t think a movie about a tire called Rubber⭐️⭐️⭐️½ would ever remotely appeal to me either, so why not a movie about a cow?

Thank you for the laughs, A24, even though this appears to not be a comedy.

Anticipation for First Cow: 0/10

The Way Back

The Way Back official trailer – opens March 6, 2020

Bearded Ben Affleck as a high school (?) basketball coach. Looks a little on the sappy side and possibly even cliched. He’s got a drinking problem. Gee, where have we seen Ben Affleck in a movie boozing it up before? The plot all seems very familiar to me, based on the trailer. A man down on his luck, coaches a losing team (Bad News Bears, anyone?). Although this seems to be going the heavy drama route and not comedy.

Have enjoyed some Ben Affleck movies, but he is kind of like Nicolas Cage to me, sort of one-dimensional. And what was the last good movie I’ve seen him in, anyway? It’s been awhile. I know he’s now divorced from Jennifer Garner (sad, too, because they looked like a nice couple together), which should have nothing to do with his movies, but somehow that is the most recent thing I can think of hearing or seeing him in the news.

I’m not very interested in watching this movie after the trailer. The title is more interesting than the trailer.

Anticipation for The Way Back: 1/10


Onward official trailer #1
Onward official trailer #2 – opens March 6, 2020

Pixar does it again with eye-catching graphic work and a bizarre, yet catchy trailer. “24 hours to bring back … the rest of dad” — what a hook!

This looks like a ton of animated fun. Am not sure if it will be age-appropriate for our grandchildren, but the story has a very Twilight Zone like edge to it which definitely appeals to me. Looking forward to this almost as much as Trolls World Tour.

Anticipation for Onward: 7/10

RELEASE DATE CHANGED from Feb 21 to March 13, 2020

Bloodshot official trailer – opening in theaters March 13, 2020

This shares the distinction of being the only 2020 movie based on a comic book character not coming from Marvel or DC. Have been a fan of Vin Diesel in action, notably the Fast & Furious franchise, so curious to see what he does with a Valiants comic character.

I don’t like the background song choice for the trailer. Doesn’t fit. The trailer otherwise makes the film look interesting. The release date was delayed and pushed back a month, was this so they could work on it more or the result of a negative test screening? Don’t know. Torn on this one. This could go either way.

Anticipation for Bloodshot 5/10

My Spy

My Spy opens March 13, 2020 – official trailer

Another delayed and pushed back title. Juvenile action-humor feel to the trailer. Reminds me of something The Rock or John Cena would do/have done, but instead this is Dave Bautista trying to be Dwayne Johnson or John Cena. Big, strong tough guy with 9-year-old girl “teaching” her how to be a spy. This doesn’t seem like a promising movie — at all.

Will probably appeal to families though like Playing With Fire⭐️½  which means it will likely get horrible reviews, but make money, encouraging similar future movies. I don’t think, based on the trailer, that this movie will be for me. Hoping I’m wrong.

Anticipation for My Spy: 2/10

The Informer (LIMITED)

The Informer opens (LIMITED) in theaters March 13, 2020

“It’s happening.” Seems more like a horror line than a thriller, but could fit.

Originally scheduled to release January 2020 and moved which makes me a bit less interested by default. The third movie this month moved from another month. Are the studios making March 2020 their new dumping ground? Also, this went from a wide release to LIMITED, which means less likelihood I’ll see it in theaters near me, anyway.

My original trailer viewing had me thinking this was an average thriller. Rewatching? No change.

Anticipation for The Informer: 2/10

The Hunt

Bonus drop-in movie on 2/13/2020. This film was mired in controversy back in September 2019 when it was dropped for being a political hot potato. Read the FIRST LOOK for more.

Anticipation for The Hunt: 7/10

I Still Believe

I Still Believe official trailer – opens March 20, 2020

Christian musician who wants his fans to help him pray for his wife that is diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is based on a true story. Jeremy Camp’s spiritual journey to overcome his wife’s illness. This looks like a crying fest. Stay away from Wikipedia as it will ruin what happens in this movie. Darn it, why did I bother to look up this musician’s page? Oh well, I knew what happened with the Titanic and still enjoyed that, so maybe the spoilers won’t matter.

I don’t look for tear-jerker spiritual dramas, but this one seems more promising than several other titles this month.

Anticipation for I Still Believe: 3/10

A Quiet Place: Part II

A Quiet Place: Part II official trailer – opens March 20, 2020

Sequel to A Quiet Place ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½.

Easily the most anticipated movie of March. I hadn’t seen the first horror film until recently and that easily became one of the best newer horror films I’ve seen in several years. Very scary, non comedy horror. These sightless creatures are the stuff of nightmares. Can’t wait to see this one!

Anticipation for A Quiet Place Part II: 9/10


Mulan official trailer – opens March 27, 2020

Disney live action based on the animated film of the same name. This will probably make boatloads of $$$ at the box office, but definitely not something I’m very interested in seeing. I do like the whole China backdrop, however, so maybe I’ll turn out loving this one. Just never know.

I’ve never seen the animated film it’s based on, either. These Disney live action remakes have been received less enthusiastically by critics, but moviegoers have seen them in droves.

Anticipation for Mulan: 3/10

Ranking the March 2020 movies by anticipation (as of this writing)

  1. A Quiet Place Part II – 9/10
  2. The Hunt – 7/10 (bonus 10th movie added on 2/13/2020)
  3. Onward – 7/10
  4. Bloodshot – 5/10
  5. I Still Believe – 3/10
  6. Mulan – 3/10
  7. The Informer – 2/10
  8. My Spy – 2/10
  9. The Way Back – 1/10
  10. First Cow – 0/10

What movies in March 2020 are you looking forward to seeing?