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This year has been a rollercoaster ride, but Disney and Pixar have managed to keep us entertained while we've all been stuck at home. This Christmas, Disney are releasing another fantastic tale called Soul and it looks spectacular.
Originally intended for a theatrical release, Soul has been made available on Disney+ following the worldwide shut down of cinemas due to the ongoing situation.
Production on Soul, like many TV shows and films around the world, was interrupted by the pandemic, and in October, Disney announced that they will release a documentary chronicling Pixar's attempts to finish the film during these crazy times.
The film focuses on Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher and jazz pianist, who has a lifelong dream of performing jazz music on stage. He impresses a group of jazz musicians during an appearance at the Half Note Club. However, an untimely accident causes Joe's soul to be separated from his body and it begins to proceed to the Great Beyond. With the help of fellow soul, 22, he embarks on an epic journey to return to his physical being.
It has already won over the critics, with the Independent saying it is a film that not only "lives up to Pixar's own impossibly high standards, but it represents the very best the studio has to offer: beauty, humour, heart, and a gut-punch of an existential crisis.
"The children will laugh and cheer; the adults will sob until their muscles ache."
Giving it an incredible five stars, The Guardian said: "It's all very headspinning, and there is real Yellow Submarine quality to the film's innocent urgency and idealism which take it to the very brink of incoherence.
"That can sometimes be exasperating but also really captivating, especially in that final visual cadenza in which Docter and Powers are really are going above and beyond the traditional Hollywood ending. It's a deeply sweet, happy, gentle film."
The Hollywood Reporter said: "This densely packed, exquisitely executed and just a teensy bit batshit film is peak Pixar. It's a vintage mix of the company's intricate storytelling, complex emotional intelligence, technical prowess and cerebral whimsy on dexamethasone."
While Screen Daily added: "Pixar has never shied away from meaty philosophical subject matters, but with Soul, the studio gets to grips with some seriously weighty themes, to stunning effect."
Soul is the latest creation from the mind of Pete Docter, who also directed the classic Pixar animated feature films Monsters, Inc., Up and Inside Out. He was appointed Chief Creative Officer at Pixar in 2018 following John Lasseter's departure.
Soul features an incredible voice cast including Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, David Diggs and Angela Bassett. Graham Norton and Richard Ayoade also have roles in the film.
It is Pixar's first film to feature an African-American lead character and the first Pixar film to have an African-American co-director, Kemp Powers.
Producer Dana Murray explained during an interview with Vulture that the film studio decided to make Joe African-American due to the intertwined history and creation of the jazz music genre and African-Americans. She said: "When we decided that our main character was a jazz musician, as soon as you start looking into the history of jazz, it just made sense that Joe was African American. So it was a decision made by the story we were telling."
Soul is available to stream on Disney+ on Christmas Day. What a festive treat!
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