Pixar’s ‘Soul’ Is an ‘Utterly Mind-Blowing,’ ‘Genuinely Profound’ ‘Captivating Journey,’ Critics Say
The pandemic may have pushed Soul out of theaters, but if the critics' reviews of Pixar's latest film indicate it, it is well on the way to becoming known as one of the animation studio's best.
While only a handful of reviews have been published of the screening at the London Film Festival, "Soul" has been hailed as one of Pixar's most visually and thematically ambitious stories. The film follows Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who risks his financially stable job to pursue his dream of a jazz career.
But just as he is nailing the audition, an unusual accident plunges him into a dimension of souls where he is offered the opportunity to return to his life if he can teach a persistent soul in training called 22 (Tina Fey) that that Life like this is worth living.
Under special rules put in place by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to explain the pandemic, any film originally slated to hit theaters this year can qualify for the Oscars if it is switched to streaming . That means that "Soul," which was released on Disney + last week, is still well on the way to awarding Pixar its 11th Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. If it wins, it would be the third Oscar for director Pete Docter, who previously won for Up and Inside Out and became the studio's new chief creative officer last year.
"Soul" will hit Disney + on Christmas Day. Read some of the reviews from London below:
Alex Godfrey, Reich
Soul could be Pixar's most exquisite film - cinematographers Matt Aspbury and Ian Megibben fill both worlds with textures to die for. This New York is only a notch away from reality and is so authentic, lovingly executed that you can feel it. Everything has been wonderfully lived that goes with a film that is an ode to life. ... For all the vision, however, it is a little Pixar-Lite. It's a wonderful 100 minutes, but not a big emotional journey. All in all, the stakes seem oddly low without the big, whiny bowel strokes you might be hoping for, certainly from the power Docter unleashed in Up and Inside Out.
Kaleem Aftab, IndieWire
"Soul" offers exactly the lessons one can expect from a story about second chances: what it takes to discover the joys in life and how to find the courage to face hard truths. But the film doesn't shy away from overcoming the exact hurdles its black protagonist faces, even in these supernatural circumstances (including a little bit about the challenges of hailing cabs in New York). Joe's blackness doesn't become a side issue. It's burned into the essence of the character and treated as a crucial aspect of their humanity. ... "Soul" remains a fascinating journey. Like some of the best jazz compositions, it uses a traditional framework to deviate in many unexpected directions so that even the inevitable ending point feels just right.
Drew Taylor, collider
We saw the first 40 minutes of Pixar's latest and it's absolutely mind blowing. ... Soul feels different from anything Pixar has ever achieved. It's a thematic, spiritual, and visual breakthrough that's not afraid to go to some really weird places (there's a ton of terminology in the first section, much like Inside Out, including some very distant concepts) and force the shell into surreal , occasionally kaleidoscopic images. And at the same time, the soul, as wild as it is, is deeply human and real.
Wendy Ide, Screen Daily
Pixar has never shied away from meaty philosophical subjects, but with Soul the studio can get to grips with some seriously weighty subjects with breathtaking impact. What's the meaning of life? Is a passion the same as a calling? And what makes a human existence meaningful and how is it measured? Fittingly, given the vitality of the film Jazz, there is a riffy, freely formulated inventiveness that revolves around the fact that the story is at least partially played out in a reflective minor key. Visually gorgeous, often very funny and really profound, this is an image that screams to be seen on the big screen
Jason Solomons, TheWrap
There's so much to enjoy and think about in “Soul”, not least the dominance of Afro-American characters and some good music, with contributions from jazz greats like Herbie Hancock, Roy Haynes and Jon Batiste. It'll make Christmas Day shine, no problem, but I felt a lingering disappointment, a lingering flicker of regret that it doesn't have the courage to have all of its beliefs. Strangely enough, amid all the glittering animations, layers of polished storyboards, neat philosophies of life, and lively dialog exchanges, what is missing at the end is a bit of soul.
Hannah Woodhead, little white lies
When "Coco" gets into The Great Beyond and lets go, "Soul" is about grabbing what you have with both hands and celebrating the joy of life. Whether you're playing the piano, eating a slice of pepperoni pizza, or just watching the wind blow through the trees, there is so much admiration for the act of being in the movie - given the uncertainty that takes up every waking minute , maybe our day hits even harder.
Clarisse Loughrey, the independent
While the physical and the metaphysical collide, “soul” lands on something much deeper than the act of someone rediscovering their joie de vivre. It is an opportunity for co-directors Pete Docter, also behind the thematically similar “Inside Out” from 2016, and Kemp Powers, to look for the really radical. Her film confronts society's capitalist focus on individual success and talent, the idea that our lives only have meaning when we are the best, most famous, most loved. Instead, the soul wonders if we could look for something simpler - what if the real joy of life is simply that we can even do it?
Leslie Felperin, THR
Soul features possibly the best soundtrack in a Pixar movie since the first Toy Story and a jazz score that is not just an ornament to the story or an emotional enhancement, but an integral part of the narrative. Joe's talent for improvisation and listening to others is key to his development as a character and fundamental to what he teaches. 22. At the same time, the animation finds a way to embed the music directly in the colors and shapes of the film, which is pure magic and pays homage to the rhythms and phrases of jazz and hip-hop artists.
Read the original story Pixar's "Soul" is an "absolutely stunning," "really deep," "compelling journey," according to critics at TheWrap
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