It's unfortunately been quite some time since fans of Pixar's incredible animation have had a chance to debut on the big screen. In early 2020 Onward did open in theaters, but only barely before theaters around the nation closed down. At the end of last year Soul debuted and despite being one of the best reviewed Pixar movies in some time, it could only be seen on Disney+. Now the same is the case with the studio's newest effort, Luca. Unlike many big releases in recent months there will be no Premium Access price tag for Luca, which is good news as it means more people will have access to another heart warming story from Pixar.
While Luca isn't quite seeing the sort of rave early reviews that we saw from Soul, that's maybe no big surprise. That movie dealt with some heavy concepts and some serious themes that, because they were executed so well, had the potential for a profound impact on people. Luca doesn't appear to have hit as many high notes, but it doesn't look like it really wanted to. Luca is, by all accounts, a much smaller movie in stakes, in scope, and everything else. This results in a movie that, while certainly good by most accounts, just doesn't leave a mark on the viewer the way many Pixar films have.
In the CinemaBlend review, Sarah El-Mahmoud says that Luca is may be not as memorable as other Pixar efforts, but it's still a four star movie that will entertain anybody.
While it’s not the studio’s most memorable film, Luca is a delightful combination of feel-good entertainment for all ages.
Luca is about a pair of friends, Luca and Alberto, who look normal when on dry land in a small town on the Italian Riviera, but are actually a sort of sea monster. The movie follows the pair, and a human girl they befriend, as they spend time together, and try not to get discovered for who they really are. And that's about it. It's a simple premise that leads to a fun story. The Gizmodo review says as much, you'll probably like this movie, but when it comes to deeper themes, there's perhaps a little something missing.
The thing is, while Luca is undeniably pretty to look at and comfortably whimsical, it never settles on exactly what it wants to say. All throughout there are themes of acceptance, that it’s okay to be different, conquering fear, the pleasures in life, and about a dozen other things, all of which swirl around in your head, but none really stick.
Nerdist holds a similar view. There's clearly a desire here to say something big with this small story, and ultimately, while the tale of friendship alone is worth checking out Luca, it falls short on its loftier ambitions.
Luca wants to tell a small story, but convey a big message. In the end, it at least gets parts of each right. And the right parts are sweet, soft, and righteously goofy enough to make the whole trip worth leaving your seabed.
However, there are also reviews that see the small, simple story of Luca, not as something to simply enjoy as passing entertainment, but rather the point of Luca in the first place, and a perfect example of how less can sometimes be so much more. Slashfilm commends Luca not for missing the mark on greater ideas, but for not trying for high-concepts and instead finding itself in simpler ideas we can all relate to...
Luca is the antithesis of everything Pixar has been working toward in recent years. And that’s good. That’s exceptional, really, because it defies the Pixar formula in such a refreshing but simple way... Instead of high-concept explorations of inner feelings or the afterlife, we get a story so beautifully specific and universal: those fleeting summer friendships that change your life forever.
At this point we've come to expect a lot from Pixar. The studio has found an incredible degree of success in its lifetime of making feature films, but to a certain degree those films have created a formula that the studio has continued to follow to success. The best thing about Luca might be its willingness to try something different. What To Watch calls Luca the best Pixar movie since Coco, saying...
The magic of this movie is that it transcends formula. The ingredients of a Pixar animated feature are all quite evident here, yet Luca is fresher, more vibrant, and more heartfelt than recent stories from the studio that either dredge up unnecessary sequels to excellent early films in the studio’s history or seem to be marking off boxes from a checklist.
In summation, it seems that Luca is, at its worst, an enjoyable movie that you may forget about soon after watching. However, for some Luca might actually be one of the more memorable films from Pixar in recent years. If nothing else, it seems there's no harm in finding out which camp you're in. Luca arrives on Disney+ June 18.