Disney’s “Wish” is blatant Disney propaganda. Unlike timeless classics such as “The Lion King” and “Encanto,” which are celebrated for their standalone stories, “Wish” is deeply entrenched in Disney lore. This film isn’t merely a tribute to the company’s past achievements; it feels like an active participant in the ongoing Disney narrative. The abundance of references to iconic Disney films like “Peter Pan,” “Mary Poppins,” and “Bambi” goes beyond homage, suggesting a deeper intention to embed the Disney ethos of imagination and dreams into every frame.
Set in a vaguely defined historical context, “Wish” unfolds in Rosas, a kingdom ruled by King Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine), a charismatic leader revered for his ability to fulfill wishes. Our protagonist, the 17-year-old Asha (portrayed by Ariana DeBose), embarks on a journey that uncovers the dark reality behind Magnifico’s facade. He is revealed as a hoarder of dreams, manipulating the hopes of his people for his gain. This storyline introduces a compelling thematic exploration of the corrupting nature of power and the dangers of placing blind faith in those who promise miracles.
“Wish” is visually striking, blending modern CGI techniques with traditional hand-drawn animation to create a lush, vibrant world. However, the world-building falls short in terms of depth and detail. Rosas, as a setting, feels somewhat underdeveloped, lacking the rich contextual layers that could have added more meaning to the narrative. Despite this, the animation’s quality and the unique blend of styles deserve recognition.
The music of “Wish,” composed by Dave Metzger, Julia Michaels, and Benjamin Rice, is one of the film’s strengths. Although it may not replicate the phenomenal success of “Encanto’s” “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” the soundtrack features memorable pieces that resonate with the story’s themes. Performances by DeBose and Tudyk are particularly noteworthy, as they bring life and depth to their characters, enhancing the overall experience.
The most significant criticism of “Wish” lies in its overt commercialism. The film often feels like an artificial product, tailor-made to fit into Disney’s centennial celebrations, rather than a narrative born out of pure creative inspiration. This commercial intent seems to overshadow the story’s artistic value, reducing it to a vehicle for marketing Disney’s brand and merchandise. The portrayal of King Magnifico, with his emphasis on greed and manipulation, unwittingly mirrors the strategies of large corporations, including Disney itself.
“Wish” elicits a range of responses, particularly among different age groups. While younger audiences may be captivated by its visual splendor and storytelling, older viewers might find it lacking in depth and emotional resonance. This disparity highlights the challenge of creating content that appeals across generations while maintaining artistic integrity.
“Wish” reflects the current trajectory of Disney’s animated films, where branding and profitability seem to take precedence over genuine storytelling. While the film delivers moments of entertainment and showcases Disney’s technical prowess, it lacks the heartfelt authenticity that has defined many of Disney’s classics. “Wish” is indicative of a broader trend within the industry, where the pursuit of profit risks overshadowing the art of filmmaking.
In theaters November 22nd, “Wish” is a reminder of the delicate balance between commercial success and artistic integrity. It’s a film that will entertain but also provoke thought about the direction of one of the world’s most influential entertainment companies.
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