Ashley Sauls’ “Soul” Review

Ashley Sauls, Staff Writer

With many movies making their debuts via streaming services this year, film companies took the opportunity to release their films during this past holiday. With everyone indoors during the pandemic, what better time is there to watch a good movie? One of the movies that I decided to check out was Disney Pixar’s newest animated feature Soul, and let me say, I was thoroughly impressed.

Soul follows the story of a young aspiring musician named Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) who is unsatisfied with the life that he has led so far. With dreams of becoming a successful jazz pianist, Joe struggles to actually take the steps to move past his current teaching job and living situation. However, after having a near-death experience that lands him in the mystical realm called the “Great Before,” where he is guided by a soul called 22 (voiced by Tina Fey) Joe contemplates the true meaning of life, and more importantly if he was really living it. 

The animation in this movie was impeccable. We all know that Disney’s studios are no strangers to the world of animation, and over the years the studio has definitely mastered their craft. However, just when I thought Pixar’s animation could not get any better, they surprised me yet again. I was amazed by the amount of detail put into every aspect of the film. The distinct character designs, both with human characters and the colorful, whimsical characters of the “Great Beyond and Great Before”, highlighted aspects of each characters’ personality and purpose. 

I also appreciated how specifically, the many black characters within the film all looked different from one another. With the representation of people of color becoming a heavy topic in the world of film and television, it was nice to see a movie with so many faces that individuals could identify with, even if it’s just on a physical level.

This film was loaded with POC representation. Like I mentioned before, representation in the media is a topic that has been discussed amongst the masses for a few years now. With many films and tv shows lacking diversity (especially from Disney’s studios), Soul was a nice change. In fact, not only is Soul the first film where a black character is a lead, but it’s also the first film where a black character is fully developed. Although some would argue that the studio shouldn’t be praised for waiting so long to do this, I say it’s better late than never. 

Yet, it is the movie’s overall theme that sets it apart from previous Pixar films the most. The message of this movie is VERY deep, much to my surprise considering it is considered a children’s film. Soul tackles philosophical questions about the meaning of life: what is our purpose on this earth while we are here? Do any of us even have a purpose at all? Are we wasting our lives away trying to find a purpose that doesn’t exist? As one who wasn’t personally prepared for such a deep message, the movie did make me quite emotional, I did definitely shed a tear or two. 

Overall I thought this movie was very well done. Between the great animation, interesting characters, and impactful message, there is something for people of all ages to enjoy.