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The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

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Disney’s ‘Wish’ gets crushed

New movie disappoints audience expectations
Fair use from Walt Disney Pictures

Ever since it was announced that Disney’s beloved writer, Jennifer Lee, was writing a new film, audiences were pumped for the release of “Wish” on Nov. 22. Directed by Fawn Veerasunthorn and Chris Buck, who worked on critically acclaimed movies such as “Frozen” and “Zootopia,” people’s hopes were high.

The story of “Wish” tells the tale of 17-year-old Asha (Ariana DeBose), who lives in the kingdom of Rosas, where everyone gives a wish to King Magnifico (Chris Pine) at 18. After wishing, the people then forget their wish until one day where the king might decide to grant it. However, after discovering the king’s nefarious intentions, Asha makes a wish upon a star who decides to lend a helping hand.

From the beginning, the character introductions are very forced. When we meet Asha’s best friend, Dahlia (Jennifer Kumiyama), Asha directly states everything about Dahlia’s character as quickly as she can. Asha says how long they have been friends, how close they are, how great Dahlia is, etc. instead of demonstrating these things through the character’s actions. Dahlia then describes Asha’s entire personality — her greatest strengths, weaknesses and all her characteristics. These clunky character introductions are repeated throughout the film for almost every character. Not only do they feel extremely unnatural, it makes the characters come across as quite fake because you only see their characteristics described, but they rarely act on these traits, especially with the side characters. 

Asha herself is a very formulaic heroine. You see very little of her personality other than what is repeatedly stated, that “she cares too much.” She has no personal interests. Her entire character consists of how she interacts with other people, which is very unrealistic. Having only this one trait also makes her character quite flat and boring. It doesn’t give the audience anything to relate to, which makes it difficult to care about her when you have no reason to like her. She isn’t terribly written, but she isn’t well written either. Asha is a very mediocre character.

The villain of the story, King Magnifico, is also a pretty flat character. He is a surface level, power-hungry man. We do learn about a vague childhood event that he claims he is trying to protect his kingdom from, but other than this cryptic piece of backstory, his only motivation is power and his own vanity. He has no good parts to him. He isn’t morally gray, which is part of writing a good villain character because it makes them more interesting when you can see their side of the story. Magnifico lacks that moral grayness. The writers are successful in making the audience dislike him. They do make him work as a villain. However, there’s so much of his character that could be improved if they just gave him more of a personality and a clearer motive.

The songs in “Wish” are one of the better aspects of the movie, but still aren’t show stopping. DeBose does have a very strong and beautiful singing voice, but the lyrics in her solo songs are very basic. They aren’t unique to any other Disney songs before them. They’re in the exact same vein with basic and vague inspirational lyrics. The instrumentals in her songs also don’t do her any favors. They’re very soft and weak, making her songs not stand out at all. The songs do get better as the film goes on. The lyrics improve with more emotion and the instrumentals become stronger. The lyrics and instrumentals peak in “Knowing What I Know Now,” “This Wish (Reprise)” and “This Is The Thanks I Get?!”

A large highlight of the film is the animation of the magic. The smoke and mist when Magnifico casts spells looks so alive. It flows and moves like a cloud with a mind of its own and it is beautiful. There’s also magic used that creates light in the form of different shapes. These shapes are a vibrant green that moves so fluidly in a gorgeous way. The animators truly showed off their talent here.

When the character Star shows up, its design is absolutely adorable. It has a cute little face that makes your heart melt. Star also has a child-like personality. It is very playful, not only with its actions and movements, but also with its magic. Star enchants many objects and animals to play and dance with. It’s constantly getting into little antics, creating adorable and delightful scenes. Star is by far my favorite part of the movie.

The majority of the animation in “Wish” is unimpressive. The backgrounds are very dull. They have little shading and color, which makes them very boring to look at. They look bland and dead. The backgrounds don’t seem like they belong in a Disney movie. They don’t have that Disney magic that their other movies have with vivid, lively backgrounds. “Wish’s” backgrounds look half finished. They are cheap and atrocious.

The plot of “Wish” is messy and rushed. There is a clear beginning and a middle, but when it gets to the ending it feels very hurried, and as a result, doesn’t provide a clear resolution. They brush over many details to skip to the end. The consequence of there being no clear resolution, is that there isn’t a moral like most children’s movies have. “Wish” is just a rushed story with no significance or lesson, which again makes it feel not like a Disney movie. The movie would have benefited from being longer and having a conclusion that Asha is more involved in, and that could give kids watching some kind of moral.

“Wish” had so much potential, but it was all wasted because of the creators disregarding the smaller details. Despite the well animated magic, the poorly written characters, dry backgrounds and rushed messy ending made me seriously dislike the film. To top everything off, “Wish” forgets the most important rule of storytelling: show, don’t tell. All of these problems together crushed my wish for “Wish” to be good.

“Wish”: ★★☆☆☆

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Rackam Walberg, Echo Staffer
 Hi, my name is Rackam Walberg. I am a sophomore and this is my first year in Echo. Other than writing and photography, I love to draw and read. I also enjoy hiking, listening to music, and watching horror movies. I’m really excited to be in Echo this year!

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