When he and his family are attacked, Magnifico (Chris Pine) decides to start afresh somewhere safe. Travelling far, far away, Magnifico and his wife find an island where they can begin a new life, welcoming others to join them and live in harmony. In time, a new kingdom, named Rosas, is created with Magnifico as king. But Magnifico is also magical and powerful, so much so that he can grant wishes. Each year, he accepts one wish from everyone within the kingdom and stores them in his castle. Occasionally, Magnifico grants one wish. If you give your wish to Magnifico, you lose it and will never be able to remember it.
When word goes out that Magnifico is seeking a new apprentice, Asha (Ariana DeBose) is keen for the position. She is eager to work with Magnifico and hopes to convince him to grant her wish. However, during the interview, Asha discovers how people’s wishes are being handled and protests. Missing out on the job, Asha makes a passionate and emotional wish under the stars. Soon, Asha finds one of the bright stars has come down to her from the heavens as her helper. The star is small, sweet, cute and adorable but also filled with fun energy to help others. Now, Asha, her pet goat Valentino (Alan Tudyk), and the star will go on an extraordinary adventure to save Rosas and the people within it.
Wish is an animated film best suited for family audiences. If you are a long-term fan of Disney animation, this is a must-watch. While Wish introduces a new story and range of characters, the film also celebrates what Disney has achieved over the last one hundred years with plenty of Easter eggs, nods, and references.
Disney has kept the story of this film simple, and specific details, especially about Magnifico, are vague and never revealed. For some audiences, particularly adults, this factor is disappointing. It’s also evident that the film attempts to return to Disney’s original roots by focusing more on the critical ingredients of magic, wishing, talking animals, and, most importantly, various musical numbers. While the random musical numbers are entertaining whenever they appear, they don’t stay with you like songs from past Disney films, such as Frozen or, more recently, Encanto.
I found the film’s voice work excellent, particularly from Chris Pine as the evil Magnifico, and actress Ariana DeBose as Asha is also pleasing. Valentino, voiced by Alan Tudyk, steals each scene with moments of comedy whenever he speaks. The animation style is also a major highlight. While it’s evident that computer technology has assisted the animation work, there is again a return to Disney’s original style and roots, and the animation is reminiscent of hand-drawn illustrations.
Overall, I feel Wish can deliver familiar magic and entertainment if you walk in with the right expectations. This isn’t just a new animated film from Disney; it is a celebration of all Disney has achieved and delivered to audiences over the last one hundred years. Long-term Disney buffs will find plenty of Easter eggs, references, nods to past films and stunning animation that looks hand-drawn and takes viewers back in time. Along with the excellent animation, the voice cast was impressive. The storyline is straightforward but lacks deeper details and is purposefully kept vague. Random musical numbers are fun when they appear, but sadly, they’re less impactful than music from past titles such as Frozen or Encanto. Ultimately, I admired that Disney attempted to introduce a new story and lively characters. Many have wished for a new concept that celebrates the magic and recreates the old-style animation: consider your ‘wish’ granted.
Wish (2023) is Available in Australian Cinemas from Dec 26th.