‘Soul’ Teases So Much, But Presents So Little
By Sal LoCicero | December 29, 2020
2020 is finally coming to an end, and with that it’s time to start ringing in the new year! As we all know this year has been a humongous struggle for many different things; movies being one of them. So many big and anticipated features that were supposed to hit theaters this year either were delayed or pushed to streaming. As a Christmas present to many around the world, Hollywood presented its customers with two big movies; Wonder Woman 1984, and Soul. While Wonder Woman 1984 may have been a disappointing gift, Soul may be satisfactory to some.
Soul is the latest animated feature from Disney and Pixar, and tells the story of a man named Joe (Jamie Foxx) who is a middle school band teacher who has such an enormous passion for Jazz. One day, he accidentally falls into a pothole in the city which leads him into ‘The Great Beyond’, where he soon discovers what it means to have a soul. Before any type of marketing was released, many speculated exactly what Soul was going to be about (due to its title, of course).
For the most part Disney and Pixar haven’t disappointed with their animations. Albeit Toy Story 4, and Incredibles 2 not meeting the high expectations of moviegoers. When it comes to the two conjoining companies, there is one very important man to look out for whenever Pixar announces their next projects, and that man is Pete Docter. Pete Docter is the man behind Pixar’s many groundbreaking achievements; such as Up, Wall-E, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, and Inside Out. His achievements are what makes Pixar what it has and still is to this day. His work behind all of these phenomenal features have put such a significant impact on not only just viewers, but the film industry in general.
“Onward” was the first film from Pixar to release this year before the pandemic, and unfortunately had a short run in cinemas due to 2020. Soul was originally supposed to release in theaters on June 19th, but it found its place to shine on Disney+ Christmas Day.
Giving that Soul showed that there were many ways to approach this story for different reasons, we were teased that we should expect something that was just as groundbreaking as Pixar’s other works (or something even better). While this movie does give off the impression that there is so much to explore within the story, it offers only half of its ideas.
When you watch this movie, you can tell that there is a lot that the filmmakers wanted to present onto screen. We get an introduction to our main protagonist Joe, who loves Jazz, we also see one scene taking place in his professional life as a band teacher, we see that he wants to accomplish so much in his life and be the best, we learn that Jazz is what makes him who he is and everyday it provides him with a purpose in the world. Once our main protagonist accidentally falls into ‘The Great Beyond’ which gives audiences the feeling that we are now exploring a new story that may or may not be relevant to the character and the story. Once he is in this new world, we get introduced to 22 (Tina Fey); a soul who hasn’t found their purpose for living yet. Once Joe and 22 encounter each other we embark on a journey where Joe is determined to go back into his body and live his life again. On the other hand, we focus on 22 and as the movie goes on we start to see how she could have a positive impact in the world.
There are a lot of strong elements that are visible, however there are others that feel like they needed to be focused on as well. Soul is also secretly uneven with the many storylines that it wants to explore. We get enough information about Joe as well as a glimpse of a day in his life (which is possibly the best aspect of this film). The amount of time we spend in Joe’s life makes us want to learn and see more of what goes on around him, but once we start to focus on 22, it feels like a whole different movie that doesn’t fully relate to Joe’s storyline.
Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner is without a doubt the best part of the movie. He absolutely fits the role and gives off even more of a humane sense from the character. Tina Fey unfortunately is the complete opposite, although it's not her that is the problem, it’s her character that is. The animation is perfect, and it holds so much power within its texture, depth, and extraordinary details that it may put tears in your eyes as you witness something beautiful. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score add to some of the more emotional scenes and they do play with your emotions.
Soul isn’t a bad movie, there is a lot of potential that it gives off. But in the end, it comes off as something that would’ve worked much better as a Pixar short.