Disney made a name for itself almost a century ago through its vibrant and creative animation. Always at the forefront of technology, they have continued to amaze audiences from generation to generation. However, in recent years something has happened to the world’s reaction to their animated features. In the last five years, Disney has released three features with only Frozen 2 breaking its way into the public consciousness leaving poor old Wreck-it-Ralph and Raya fading into the background. It seems to this lifelong Disney fan, that Disney is losing its spark, but will its brand-new feature Encanto relight the flame?
Written by Niamh Brook
The 60th animation in Disney's history, Encanto follows Mirabel Madrigal as she struggles to cope with being the only member of her magical family without a gift. Living in a magical house named Casita, literal and figurative cracks begin to form in that Madrigal family as Casita begins to crumble and the family begin to lose their gifts, sending Mirabel on a journey to save her family and prove herself as a worthy member of the family. Whilst enjoyable, the plot feels a little weak and by the time you are beginning to feel truly compelled the film has about 15 minutes left. With a cast of such vibrant characters, the film struggles to balance time spent with the family and the progression of the plot.
Perhaps the most strain is felt during the film’s musical numbers in which there are 7 only 2 can be classed as certified bops that are both catchy and progress the story whilst others feel misplaced and strangely hard to follow due to its sudden surrealist ‘music video format’. The plot pauses so a secondary character can sing about their feelings and whilst it is effective, just stunts the entire narrative.
Our lead Mirabel is a refreshing take on a Disney lead, bumbling and awkward, she crashes her way through the narrative and continually pushes up her glasses as she does so. Whilst the plot tasks her to save the day, she never appears to Mary Sue her way through it, making mistakes that have genuine consequences. And whilst you could never describe the character as curvy or plus-sized, I felt it was refreshing to see a female protagonist in a Disney film with a waist a proportional size to the rest of her body. Baby steps Disney, baby steps.
Encanto is definitely a Disney film I will revisit, and I had a great time in the cinema both watching it and hearing children react to the lessons Mirabel and the rest of the Madrigal’s learn. It’s colourful, fun, magical and a film that everyone will have a blast watching. Has it made its way into my top ten Disney films? No. Will I be playing the soundtrack in my car? Maybe one or two songs. But even considering that, Encanto is a Disney animation that feels new and refreshing and will hopefully light a spark for a new era of animation for the studio. Now, play We Don’t Talk about Bruno because it’s a bloody banger!