Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Disney’s ‘Wish’ Will Leave Audiences Wishing It Was A Better Celebration Of Studio’s 100th Anniversary

Late last month, Walt Disney Studios released its latest animated feature, Wish, to 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD.  The movie, meant to be a celebration of the studio’s 100th anniversary, is, sadly anything but a proper celebration of the legacy made by what was once one of Hollywood’s powerhouse studios.  That is shown largely through its featured story, which at its heart is anything but what is discussed in the movie’s bonus content.  That bonus content is actually the saving grace to this otherwise lackluster attempt to celebrate the legacy of the studio’s namesake so many decades ago. It will be discussed shortly.  The movie’s animation style rounds out its saving graces and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here plays its own important part in the whole of Wish.  All things considered, Wish proves itself to be anything but a wish granted for audiences hoping for a much more fitting birthday bang for what used to be one of Hollywood’s most respected names.

Wish, Walt Disney Studios’ latest animated cinematic offering was said to be by some in the bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home release , a celebration of the company’s 100th anniversary.  If that really is the case then it was certainly not the best way for the studio to mark the occasion.  The movie is not a complete failure, though.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its recently released home presentation serves to help it survive at least to a point.  One of the most interesting of the bonus features is in fact the very discussion on how it was used to celebrate Disney reaching the century mark.  The discussion in question is titled “The Story of Wish.”  The movie’s creative heads talk about how the movie came to be as a result of various round tables.  One topic that came about was the discussion on how Disney movie heroes were ordinary figures facing great odds, and how that made them relatable.  That led to a further discussion on the topic of so many Disney characters wishing on a star.  That topic became the center of Wish.  On the surface, that comes across as a great topic, tying all of Disney’s movies to this story.  The thing is that the story is more than that.  It is also an allegory about authoritarianism.  This is never directly noted in the bonus content, but the group does discuss briefly how the main theme of wishing on a star plays into another theme, that of who has the right to control our wishes and our dreams.  The authoritarian allegory comes into play as the story’s main character, Magnifico (Christopher Pike – Star TrekStar Trek: Into DarknessStar Trek: Beyond) has his authority questioned by Asha (Ariana DeBose – West Side StoryHamiltonArgylle).  Magnifico starts out as an already somewhat power hungry figure, but gets pushed over the edge by that questioning.  This approach is one of the few saving graces of the story, which is otherwise forgettable.

That the writing team behind Wish is to be commended for making Magnifico a figure who was sort of a villain to begin with but not the overt villain that so many Disney movies have come up with in its existing, expansive catalog.  Far too often audiences have been presented with the typical megalomaniacal villain in every Disney movie.  This time out, audiences get to see someone who was already conflicted become the total villain all because of one person.  It is that theme of absolute power corrupting absolutely because of its addictive nature.  At the same time, the preachy message of authoritarianism (which is typical of every Disney movie villain) becomes just too much because it is so commonplace.  The nonstop musical numbers, which are so prominent throughout the movie tend to offset that otherwise watchable presentation.  It seems like there is a musical number once every few minutes, with the number reaching something around eight to nine songs.  It just all seems so run of the mill save for that one aspect of the story surrounding Magnifico.  Other than that, the story really does not do much of anything to make itself a big, bombastic celebration of Disney’s 100th anniversary.

While the story featured in this movie is otherwise forgettable, save for one aspect of the presentation, there is one other item that helps to save it.  That aspect is its animation.  As is mentioned in the separate bonus feature focused on the animation, this is thankfully not just another cookie cutter offering from Disney in regard to its animation.  Audiences will note that the animation incorporates vintage hand-drawn art as well as digital art.  The blending of that vintage and modern art style gives the movie an identity all its own.  It really is the core of what makes the movie bearable.  When the unique artistic approach taken to this movie is considered alongside its companion bonus discussion and the other bonuses, the movie becomes at least worth watching once despite not being the best anniversary celebration for Disney.

Wish, the latest animated feature from Walt Disney Studios, is far from being the best movie that the once legendary studio has ever produced in its now century-long history.  It is also not the studio’s worst offering.  If anything, it is worth watching at least once, but that is primarily due to the bonus content featured with the movie’s home release.  The background information that the bonus content provides audiences on the movie helps make it at least somewhat more bearable. The animation that is used in the movie helps make it bearable in its own right.  That is because it actually takes a different approach for once, avoiding the cookie cutter look of so many Disney (and even Pixar) movies that the studio has released.  When each element is considered along with the story, which is weighed down by the preachy allegory of authoritarianism (that likely will go over most younger viewers’ heads) and the unnecessary number of musical numbers, the whole proves a presentation that deserves to be seen at least once but sadly is anything but a proper celebration of a studio that has crafted far better fare in its heyday.

Wish is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD as well as through Disney+.  More information on this and other titles from Walt Disney Studios is available at: