‘Wish’ is a lacklustre celebration of 100 years of Disney

An interesting premise is let down by a rather bland cast of characters, design, and music.


BASKL was invited to the media screening of Disney’s new animated movie, Wish, at the Aurum Theatre, The Gardens Mall. The Aurum Theatre was exceedingly comfortable, bringing to mind the first-class section of an aeroplane. Blankets and pillows were provided, and the seats were wide and spacious, allowing patrons to recline comfortably while watching the movie. So, no complaints about the theatre, but how was the movie?

HOW DID THE WISHING STAR, UPON WHICH SO MANY CHARACTERS WISHED, COME TO BE? — Walt Disney Animation Studios’ original fairytale adventure “Wish” is an all-new story is set in the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, an optimist with a sharp wit and a deep caring for her community, turns to the sky in a moment of need, and makes a wish. Asha’s plea is answered by a cosmic force, a little ball of boundless energy, Star. Together, they will face the most formidable of foes to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars – wondrous things can happen. The voice cast includes Ariana DeBose as Asha and Alan Tudyk as the pajama-wearing goat, Valentino. Featuring original songs by Julia Michaels, “Wish” is helmed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, and produced by Peter Del Vecho and Juan Pablo Reyes. The feature film releases Fall 2023.

Wish is a movie that celebrates 100 years of Disney, and so harkens back to the type of movie that put Disney’s name on the map. Set in a medieval fantasy setting just like its ancestors Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, Wish is the story of Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose), a young girl who lives in the kingdom of Rosas. Rosas is an apparent utopia where people around the world travel to in the hopes of having their wishes fulfilled by the charismatic King Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine). Upon turning 18, every citizen of Rosas can give their wish to the king, who will take care of it in their stead and grant it at a future time. When that time will be, or if it will even be granted at all, is up to the king’s discretion.

GLOW UP – In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish,” sharp-witted idealist Asha (voice of Ariana DeBose) makes a wish so powerful, it’s answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Artists lit the character in a way that makes it luminous—casting a glow onto the surrounding characters and environment. The epic animated musical opens only in theaters on Nov. 22, 2023. © 2023 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Asha’s grandfather turns 100 at the time of the story, and has been waiting for his wish for many years. This is what compels Asha to apply to be the king’s apprentice, so she can petition him to grant her grandfather’s wish. However, what she discovers when she is in the king’s magical laboratory shocks her. King Magnifico will only grant wishes he is absolutely sure will pose no threat at all to the kingdom, and those that are even slightly ambiguous, like Asha’s grandfather’s wish, will never be granted despite how innocuous they may seem. Dejected, Asha makes a wish so powerful, a cosmic force takes notice: the glowing mascot of the movie, Star.

ASHA’S PLIGHT – In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ epic musical “Wish,” Asha (voice of Ariana DeBose) and her pajama-wearing pet goat, Valentino (voice of Alan Tudyk), live in the magical kingdom of Rosas, where wishes really do come true. But when Asha discovers a devastating truth about everyone’s wishes, she turns to the sky. Her wish is so powerful, it’s answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Helmed by Oscar®-winning director Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, “Wish” opens only in theaters on Nov. 22, 2023. © 2023 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

This is in this writer’s opinion, an incredibly compelling premise. Is it better to undergo heartache and hardship in the pursuit of a dream? Or is it better to release oneself from the burden of said dream and live blissfully in ignorance, hoping that a “higher power” will eventually see fit to make your dream come true.

While the premise is rife with potential, unfortunately, the movie does not make full use of it, especially when it comes to the antagonist King Magnifico. The concept of a benevolent dictator that fully believes what he is doing is the absolute best course of action to protect his people is very engaging, however, King Magnifico is written as a little too blatantly evil, with no redeeming qualities. He complains about his people being ungrateful and later on consumes their dreams to make himself more powerful. Overall, you get the impression that he’s doing all of this to feel powerful and secure rather than any real love for his people.

THIS IS THE THANKS I GET?! – In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish,” King Magnifico feels unappreciated when he realizes that he’s not the only source of magic in Rosas, launching the song “This Is The Thanks I Get?!” Performed by Chris Pine as Magnifico, the song follows in the footsteps of classic villain songs like “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989’s “Little Mermaid”), “Be Prepared” (1994’s “The Lion King”) and “Mother Knows Best” (2010’s “Tangled”), inviting the king to let his inner villain out. The epic animated musical “Wish” hits the big screen on Nov. 22, 2023. © 2023 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The other characters, Asha’s friends and pet goat (Valentino, voiced by Alan Tudyk) are not particularly memorable or fleshed-out either. They are quirky and fun enough, often dropping the one-liners that seem mandatory in modern Disney movies. Even then, none of their jokes land with enough impact to stick in the brain after watching.

This, like many other Disney movies, is a musical, and the movie is peppered with many scenes where the characters spontaneously burst into song. Of course, music is highly subjective, but this writer did not find any of the songs immediately memorable in the way the songs from Frozen, Mulan or The Lion King were. The music did have some cues taken from Pinnochio, specifically the very appropriate When You Wish Upon a Star. On that note, there are a few cameos and references from popular Disney movies of yesteryear, which long-time Disney fans will appreciate.

IT’S GOOD TO BE KING – In Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish,” King Magnifico is the most powerful person in the kingdom of Rosas, where wishes really do come true. People come from all around the world to give their wishes to Magnifico, a charming and confident king who promises to grant their deepest desires—someday. But the king isn’t entirely altruistic; he alone decides whose wish will be granted, and he relishes the control. Featuring the voice of Chris Pine as King Magnifico, the epic animated musical “Wish” hits the big screen on Nov. 22, 2023. © 2023 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The art style employed in the movie is made to evoke the look of a fairy tale storybook come to life, and succeeds in that aspect. However, the character designs are somewhat bland. Star, despite being the mascot of the movie, feels somewhat detached visually from the overall art style. Star, with its clean lines and minimalistic design, would feel more at home in a science fiction cartoon or a modern air conditioner commercial.

Overall, Wish is a movie that sounds fascinating on paper, but is ultimately let down by a script, music, and character design that is far too bland to stand as a worthy celebration of Disney’s 100th year anniversary. This movie would be perfectly serviceable if it was made by any other studio, but putting it in comparison with Disney’s other iconic works makes it pale in comparison.

Wish is now screening in theatres near you.

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