Soul: A Review of the Pixar Animated Film

Soul is Pixar Animations newest feature film, one thrust into the newest era of streaming and available now and for the foreseeable future on Disney Plus. The film is a marvel of 3D animation, showing how far the medium has come and clearly displaying Pixar’s finesse with their abilities. Also on par with most of Pixar’s filmography is the story and subject matter.

Their works can masquerade as “children’s movies” as much of animation is pigeonholed these days, but the contents and implications of the story are much more universal in application. Pixar veteran and Soul’s director Pete Docter wrote the story with his co-director Kemp Powers and writer Mike Jones. Docter delivers again in creating fantastically foreign yet somehow familiar worlds and concepts just like with his previous directorial works Monsters Inc., Up, and Inside Out.

Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) lands in the Great Before.

The mysterious world and story help facilitate a lot of the great animation, such as main character Joe Gardner playing the piano with impressive accuracy and weight to his movements, or the small facial expressions on the character’s faces. The twist on the material (or immaterial really) is similar to Docter’s work on Inside Out. This classic Pixar magic lets the story be told and explored visually in ways only 3D animation can allow. Soul reveals itself to be somewhat self-titled, taking place in a couple different ethereal planes of existence which lie adjacent to Earth.

Whereas most films dealing with the afterlife touch on religion though, Soul chooses to focus on what is left behind, life itself. This results in an inspiring and touching story that helps the audience reflect on their own lives and perhaps create more appreciation for the gift that life truly is. Describing too much of the environments explored throughout the story feels like a disservice to those who haven’t seen the film, since the discovery of these foreign areas is part of the fun.

Joe Gardner playing the piano with impressive accuracy and weight to his movements.

My only nitpicks with the picture consist of coincidences, underdeveloped concepts, and the last third of the film taking a bit long. Things seem too easy for the characters throughout the film, and in some instances third parties are involved without explanation, like “Where did Dr. Brögensson go?” Undeveloped items like this are usually used for a joke, but not always. The jokes are brief and sprinkled throughout the film. It’s quant humor that doesn’t linger, the kind of jokes you either catch and giggle or be left asking what was so funny. These short hilarities along with wondrous colors and animation make light the once heavy subject that is life and death. My last issue lies with the films’ fall off. The last third is a slow release that may affect people differently depending on what each individual takes from the film’s themes, but I personally found the answer long before the film’s official ending.

Still, it is a satisfying and emotional ending for an emotionally satisfying film. Gorgeously rendered and animated by the magicians Pixar employs, and fleshed out to have universal life significant lessons by the story creators. I’d highly suggest Soul to any fans of animation, or any fans of well written Pixar releases.

Written by Damon Rios

Damon is an amateur writer and professional media consumption artist. Movies, music, games, and books are all on the table. He is working towards a bachelor’s in communications and hopes to go professional in any writing capacity. As stated, Damon’s habits rotate from music consumption, to movie consumption, and everything in between.

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