No surprise, Disney is capable of masterpieces, and they continue to push the envelope for making these movies come to life. Encanto is certainly an incredible display of movement, smooth transitions and numbers that take the energy of Disney and amplify it tenfold to unleash on the big screen. It's dynamic, it's fun, and it utilizes so much of the environment that it presents itself as the musical it set out to be. The design explodes out in an amazing color, fantastic designs, and that campy details that bring you the happiness of a close knit Disney family. It's certainly a core element of the feels of the movie, and will easily capture your attention within seconds of starting.
Disney has been big on bringing culture to their films and they once again managed to succeed in unleashing the honorable themes that come with it. Encanto is all about family, and the movie works hard to show that essence in the form of meals, helping the community, and trying to dig deeper into the darker corners that we all might hide. It's a beautiful representation of the work family building is, and tries to bring the other important elements of the culture into every scene they can. There is communion over dinner, the integration of the animals and plants made famous in the South American jungles, and the arts of crafting that are effortlessly integrated into the casa. The musical numbers bring the fervor and fire of the dancing, implementing the usual Disney movements, Encanto's numbers try to mix in a little South American dance spice and it works fantastically. Soon the mythos starts to leak into other elements and brings with it a grand display of the values and nuances that my limited studies have suggested they value. The result is a homely, and welcoming film that the young ones and young at heart will like, and potentially motivate families to dive a little more into cultural heritage.
Encanto's main setting is this central house that the magic family lives in. You might think a house is not the most impressive Disney setting, but you'd be surprised at how well they utilized this enchanted villa into the story. The first is just the setting itself, a massive display of cultural architecture that we mentioned earlier to give symbolic nods to the Columbian architecture. Expanding on that, the rooms that the Familia have contain the magic that Disney can make, and opens the door for lots of new avenues to exploit in the future. Two of the rooms we see are the things of dreams, with the imagination oozing out in the extensive, physics defying, displays they have become as jungles and fields erupt into one magical room. Soon, the house turns into the obstacle course to find the clues to saving the magic as the dark parts of the house emerge. And then, the house becomes an actual character, an anthropomorphized obstacle that has its own means of adding to the story as it protects and pulls the family into its moving embrace. In a comical manner, the house bobs and weaves its own dance, having a lot of fun character though it never speaks a word to the characters it helps on a daily basis. The house was a fantastic piece to connect everything, and one of the biggest Disney elements of the movie for me.
You've got the Hamilton head manning the wheel on the original songs and he accomplishes things super well with his ingenuity. I found Encanto's work to be a lot more diverse than some of his previous work, but still holding the same quality and fluidity that he has mastered for so long. The opening number is fast and exhilarating, the mixture of stage show with the Latino spin I expected of him. Soon, the other numbers follow, always having that Broadway feel, but being curtailed to the movie to help hold the emotions of the movie moment and still be fun to sing. And he manages to add more genres to his repertoire in this film, and I loved the chorography they instill in the movies helping elevate the words in the quirky mixture of comedy and dance. Helping diversify the mixture of music, comes the nonmusical works, a score that again blends the festive nature of Latin culture and guides it towards serious sequence moments and festive parties. I actually preferred these moments to the big numbers and I absolutely loved how they brought the energy without being too extravagant.
Encanto is a very relevant film to me, and like Disney does, has some great lessons that don't cross the political lines for me. Mirabel and her family have a lot of dynamics that are realistic, and within the walls of Casita, holds levels of storytelling that dug deep and made me feel attachment to my own family. I loved the big lessons of Mirabel not being a superhero, but was able to still work towards the mystery, which I think is important to note in the world of celebrities we idolize today. Other areas still run deep too, and that very core can impact a lot of people both young and old who watch this film. I loved the message being integrated well into the film, and not going too preachy as sometimes happens with messages in the film.
Character usage is not the worst in the movie, but I can't lie that after the opening of the film, I had hoped for more character usage and balance than what I got in this film. Encanto's powers are not the most unique, but they offered some potential to collaborate in this mission to save the magic and discover the secrets in the house. Yet, the powers were sort of wonky, with some of the characters only doing their powers to the extent of what you saw in the trailers. The magic of the rooms and that imagination we get in the opening numbers, sort of fades to the background and I would have loved more of that magic to come in to the story instead of just the songs.
Music Over Full Plot:
Much like Frozen, Disney seemed to have put the songs before the story with this piece. I had fun with the numbers, but they became the center stage of the film where everything was about those numbers. The story's predictability was in part due to the budget going to these songs alongside the power struggles mentioned above, was because of all the focus on the soundtrack The movie has a great respect for the character motifs, and those elements of the story are strong, but I can't lie that it still did not have all the elements that Tangled, Zootopia, and Wreck it Ralph have made famous in their lineage. Throw in that the characters who were built up to be important are sort of haphazardly used, with only two really getting the primary integration I expect of these movies. Perhaps that will occur with Disney+ making another special a few years down the line, and their rooms, that magic, and their adventures will be in the next spin off that the House Of Mouse is making common.
The Lack Of Suspense/Worthy Antagonist:
My least favorite part of the movie has to be the antagonist and the adventure elements missing in this film. Encanto, much like Soul, is more so a dive into the battlefield of human emotions and hardships of life. As great as this is, it still is missing the adventure theme that I've seen in other Animation Studios, lacking those mind bending creatures and myths for our heroine to conquer. The mystery was actually not that deep or complicated, and the struggles to find the answers came a little easier and quicker than what I kind of expected from the trailers. Again, a super powered household would expect to have bigger challenges, but it was sort of swept under the rug making it lack the same bite and suspense that again other films do so well. Even the antagonist was not the usual level of creativity that they've done, which though it fits into the story, still could have used a little more adversity to drive the bus.
Encanto is a very fun film, with the heart and soul of the Latino culture and the values that many shows/movies have stated they hold. The animation and design are top notch as Disney always does, and I loved the energy imbued into the various scenes of the film. That house was a brilliant, multidimensional tool that accomplished so much and it allowed a lot of things to be integrated in the short span of time. The music of the film is definitely a high point, and floods much of the film to get you dancing in your seat and buying soundtracks later on after the movie gets older. Sadly, the movie has too many characters and too little time to integrate every character in adequate time to be meaningful to the story. Encanto needs more time and adventure elements of the story for a guy like me, blending that heart and proving that fortitude by giving a good opponent to storm. Yet, the puzzles, the mystery, and that usual Walt Disney fervor is a little tamer in this film, and I would have liked a little more of that sauce to break things up and give that punch that I quite enjoy. Still, the movie is worthwhile and fun for a theater visit, especially those who enjoy the musical theater element more than an adventure. And it is definitely a great movie for the family to check out this week if looking for harbor from Black Friday.
My scores are;
Movie Overall: 7.0.
65 out of 110 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.