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Aug. 4, 2020

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New on DVD: ‘Onward’ uses tired trope but still hits right notes

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Metalheads finally get their due in a top DVD release for May 19.

• “Onward“: Tribune News Service film critic Katie Walsh says this animated adventure from Disney/Pixar, finally brings mainstream representation to a group previously relegated to the margins of popular culture: the fantasy-obsessed metalhead. Chris Pratt voices older bro Barley, a burly chap (or elf, rather) in a battle vest with an affinity for all things Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, or rather, the generically branded versions. In his trusty steed Guinevere, an old purple van airbrushed with a mighty Pegasus, Barley blasts sweet heavy metal tunes about wizards and beasts and magic. Barley is a blast.

This isn’t Barley’s story, though he’s an integral part. This is the story of his younger brother, Ian (Tom Holland), a shy young elf who discovers that he does, indeed, have a little magic in him.

Walsh writes that “Onward” contains potentially the most morbid example of the Disney dead parents trope, which they’ve relied on for decades. Dead parents have been the easy shortcut right to emotional stakes for the young characters. But “Onward” literally embodies this ever-present longing for a lost loved one, as Ian and Barley drag their father’s sentient legs around with them on their quest.

Despite that, Walsh says “Onward” plucks all the right heartstrings to produce many laughs and many tears.

“Emma”: Autumn De Wilde, a music video director, makes her feature debut with “Emma,” adapted from Jane Austen’s novel by Eleanor Catton. Tribune News Service film critic Katie Walsh says that de Wilde deploys everything at her disposal to execute an expertly choreographed and designed film highlighting the arch artifice of aristocratic culture and behavior in Regency England.

Every cinematic element, including cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt, costumes by Oscar winner Alexandra Byrne, production design by Kave Quinn and music by David Schweitzer and Isobel Waller-Bridge, joins in a delicate dance to create a carefully constructed confection as sweet as one of the pastries they devour at tea, Walsh writes.

Also new on DVD

• “Sonic the Hedgehog”: Jim Carrey stars in movie adaptation of the Sega video game.

• “The Way Back”: Ben Affleck in the story of a high school basketball coach who bounces back from addiction.

• “Brahms: The Boy II”: Katie Holmes stars in creepy killer doll sequel to 2016’s “The Boy”

• “Wildlife”: Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal star in tale of a fractured marriage. Directed by Paul Dano.

• “Behind You”: Horror movie about two sisters running afoul of supernatural in aunt’s creepy house.

• “Buffaloed”: Zoey Deutch as a young woman desperate to get out of Buffalo, N.Y.

• “Call the Midwife: Season Nine”: The latest happenings at Nonnatus House in the beloved PBS drama.

• “Creepshow Season 1”: Latest adaptation of Stephen King horror tales on the Shudder streaming service.

• “Fear the Walking Dead Season 5”: Another season of the spinoff to “The Walking Dead.”

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