The way that Pixar can create whole worlds and concepts out of a simple idea will always amaze. Soul is exactly like that too. This time, the world that has been created is the after-life, or more accurately, the pre-life, called the You Seminar, where souls are developed before they are sent into the world.
This means that Pixar can stretch their creative legs. This world is full of fantastic little touches, from the different workshops where you hone your skills, the mentors which help you become a soul and the final “jump” into the body you will inhabit. There is so much going on, be it the background or in the little details sprinkled throughout, that you are sure to keep spotting inventive aspects with each re-watch.
The story itself is of a man who finds himself in the You Seminar when he should be in the after-life. Finally about to get his big break as a jazz star, Joe Gardner’s life is cut short. He then desperately attempts to undo this “mistake,” wanting to get back into his body. With the help of 22, he gets someway towards his goal but it doesn’t quite go to plan.
After the characters have been through the You Seminar and this creative world, with its intricate rules, has been introduced, the film jolts into a completely different type of story, one that has been done many times before. What you could chalk-up as laziness by Pixar is more like breathing life into a well-worn concept. I won’t spoil it here as the trailers did well too hide it, but it takes a U-Turn and the movie becomes something else entirely but remains as entertaining and creative as it had been in the first act.
As with the best of the Pixar movies, Soul manages to balance the heart and humour perfectly. There is a deeper message to the movie and its clear what it is from fairly early on but that doesn’t make the story any less impactful when the emotional beats reveal themselves. The same for the humour, Soul is really funny in places and takes the concept it has decided to develop and squeezes some great gags from it.
Like any high-concept movie, the story does eventually take over and Soul suffers from a rush to the finish in the final act. The creativity and humour begin to dry-up so that the core message of the movie can be delivered, which is fine and it is still effective, but its feels like some of the quality if stripped away in the final moments.
Overall, Soul is Pixar at their creative finest once more. They build a great world, full of some very clever touches, which is a perfect vehicle for the story they are telling. Aspects of the movie are very recognisable but Pixar puts a fresh spin on most of it. The emotion and story takes over in the end though, to some detriment.
Rating – 4
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