Home » Film Reviews » ‘Wish’ review: Dirs. Fawn Veerasunthorn, Chris Buck (2023)

‘Wish’ review: Dirs. Fawn Veerasunthorn, Chris Buck (2023)

Disney's 62nd feature animation and the one picked for release in its 100th year falls short of the mark.

by Paul Heath

Disney’s latest feature animation brings in the big guns in Frozen director Chris Buck and Disney and animation veteran Fawn Veerasunthorn for their 100th-year original, a fantasy adventure with all the right moves which reaches for the stars but doesn’t quite hit the dizzying heights of its predecessors.

For their 100th year, Disney had to do something a bit special, particularly following the last film Strange World which far from performed with critics and fans alike. With Wish, the 62nd film in their history, it paints by numbers to create a feature animation featuring all of the hallmarks of the previous 61, but something doesn’t quite knit together.

The story is set in the fantastical kingdom of Rosas, a mysterious desert island somewhere in the Mediterranean, heralded by King Magnifico (the voice of Chris Pine) and his wife Queen Amaya (Angelique Cabral). 17-year-old Asha (Ariana DeBose) lives with her mother, and grandfather Sabino (Victor Garber)who is approaching his 100th birthday, and she’s about to go for a big interview over at the palace to become the dashing King’s new apprentice. You see, Magnifico is a sorcerer, and up in his magic castle, he’s harbouring the kingdom’s inhabitants’ wishes and, at various points during the year, he grants one of the residents wishes to come true, each one forgetting what their dream originally was once they’ve handed them over. After a meeting with the ominous king, Asha quickly smells a rat and realises that he’s not making wishes become reality, but instead storing them forever so that they can never come true, all to protect his reign over the magic kingdom.

Related: One more trailer for Disney’s next big animated feature ‘Wish’

However, one day Asha wishes upon a star and into her love comes the literal Star, a yellow cutesy character who is able to sprinkle magic dust over things and creatures to make them talk, including the young teenager’s pet goat, Valentino (Alan Tudyk). With Star at her side, Asha strives to free Rosas’ thousands of residents’ wishes from the clutches of the villainous Magnifico, with the odd stop along the way for a good old-fashioned Disney sing-song.

Wish, for the most part, an enjoyable affair, still a step above most animated features that are drip-fed into cinemas during specific holiday periods throughout the year. DeBose is excellent as the latest Disney princess with the vocal cords to match her charm and likability as our heroine, Asha. The film’s main theme ‘This Wish‘ is certainly a catchy affair enough almost to rival ‘Let It Go’ from the first Frozen, a song we parents have grown to loath over the last ten years, but Frozen, alas, this is not.

It is entertaining and, despite its memorable nods, there’s not too much that’s memorable about this film.

As you can tell from my brief recall of the synopsis, there are many obvious and some not-so-obvious references to Disney’s past – the sorcerer’s apprentice, the character celebrating his 100th birthday, the talking animals, the cute sidekick mascot, family tragedy, mushrooms seemingly from Alice in Wonderland, the hand-drawn feel to the animation itself to name just a few off the top of my head. This is the Mouse House’s nostalgic gaze back at their history which they must be allowed license for as 100 years is quite the achievement with the now-corporate machine showing no signs of slowing up. And it’s all quite entertaining and despite its memorable nods, there’s not too much that’s memorable about this film.

It looks pretty, the performances are great and clearly, a lot of effort has gone into this project with tons of love. The problem is that if Disney is going to make us recall their greatest hits then we’re going to compare this latest offering to them, and it falls way short. Despite a relatively short runtime, the plot drags, something which the likes of Frozen and the more recent release Encanto didn’t do and, as we all know, stand up to repeat viewings for both kids and, if we’re to admit it, adults alike.

That all said, I did watch this with my three and five year old and they were spellbound from the off, the enchanting universe immediately recognisable to them, both clutching their dad-bought Wish-labelled drink holders, the ‘machine’ already working before we’d even stepped into the auditorium. Both loved the movie, but in a choice between watching this or Elsa and co. in either of the two features they’ve fronted, I would be willing to bet which one they’d opt for in a few weeks’ time once the stardust has settled.

Far from the disaster you might read about online, Wish is solid family fun but far from the modern masterpiece you’d think the the animation king would choose to put out in their milestone year.

Wish is on general release in cinemas now.

‘Wish’

Paul Heath

Film

Summary

A decent enough Disney effort but one that is far from memorable and in line with the modern classics like ‘Frozen’.

3

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