When you wish upon a star, with your own heart’s desires, where will it take you? This is perhaps one of the many lasting questions laid down on Walt Disney Studios’ legacy as it celebrates its 100th-year anniversary this year. Fans may look back on Disney classics like Cinderella, Snow White, Pinocchio, and more as the studio moves on to a new age. However, Wish gladly brings the studio back to the format that made its films so iconic in the first place.
Wish follows a young girl named Asha (Ariana DeBose) who’s on her way to become a grand aide for King Magnifico (Chris Pine). However, after discovering the dark truth, Asha comes across the curious and innocent Star, whose magic is unlike any other. Together, the two must find a way to stop Magnifico’s plans to spark a better future for everyone.
Firstly, as far as performances go, Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine do a very great job with their performances. It really feels like they’re being invigorated with the energies of classic heroes and villains of old. DeBose provides Asha with a compassionate, yet charming and daring personality that’s sweet to watch as her hero’s journey gets ever more intense. In addition, her singing prowess is beautifully encompassing, especially in perhaps Wish‘s most memorable song “This Wish”.
Furthermore, Chris Pine’s take on the traditional Disney villain in King Magnifico is delightfully devilish as he can go from almost comically cunning to intensely terrifying in just a few scenes. His performance is highly reflective of how recent Disney movies have resorted to more emotional conflicts without a villain and even “twist” villains (see Frozen and Big Hero 6), which is quite refreshing.
In addition, the movie also infuses a unique take on the Seven Dwarves in Asha’s seven friends, who are a joy in their own ways albeit in a limited narrative capacity. The side cast, including Asha’s friends, are relegated to being comedic elements, especially with Asha’s pet goat Valentino (Alan Tudyk). However, they do get some big moments to shine, particularly in the climaxing third act.
As for the bright Star itself, it’s the film’s most innocent and cutest character in Wish. It can’t talk, but it does so much more in doing than saying things as it helps Asha and that’s what makes it work.
Animation-wise, Wish combines unique styles with cel-shading, storybook-style designs, and traditional 3D animations to create such impressive set pieces, even though the color palette remains the same. This is especially seen in all of the songs as the cinematography and animation go hand-in-hand with pulling you in with all of these twisting, yet cohesive elements.
Speaking of the songs, there are so many great songs as mentioned, such as “This Wish” and “This Is The Thanks I Get?!”, and each of them were really cool to watch thanks to the visual choices made. Each song in the film is beautifully integrated with all of these grandiose sequences, especially with its use of the environment. Wish fully knows the Disney movie formula with its song-making process and stays true to that all throughout.
As for the story, it’s mostly as simplistic as you can get for any Disney movie, which makes it great for families to watch. Everything is played out straight and as concise as possible as Asha embarks on her mission to stop Magnifico. However, it can often feel like the movie can become too comedic for certain moments, especially in the second act, which don’t allow for more emotional moments between Asha and her family to further expand to make them more impactful. Plus, there are so many references to older Disney films littered throughout Wish, which anyone can spot out, but they can sometimes be a bit pushed too much.
As a whole, Disney Animation’s Wish is a happy celebration of the studio’s 100th anniversary with a fun cast of characters, great songs, and a simplistic story and message that any Disney fan, young and old, can appreciate. The mixture of cel-shaded 2D and 3D animated elements come together in a beautiful blend that reminisces closely to the old form. Overall, Wish serves as a satisfying honoring of Disney’s legacy while shining out on its own and is what any fan can wish for.
Rating – 7.5/10
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Wish will release in theaters on November 22.