Disney’s ‘Wish’: A Dive into Mediocrity

The movie’s main protagonist, Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose) meets a wish-granting being, Star, while on her journey to stop King Magnifico (PHOTO: Disney)

Set to be Disney's commemorative film for their 100th year anniversary, how does Wish compare to a century worth of magical movies and tales?

The movie’s main protagonist, Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose) meets a wish-granting being, Star, while on her journey to stop King Magnifico (PHOTO: Disney)

When it was announced that ‘Wish’ was going to be the celebratory movie for Disney’s 100th year anniversary, long-time fans and movie critics worldwide had set high expectations.

This was only natural as the studio has produced many incredible hits from The Lion King to The Little Mermaid and recently Encanto. 

More pressure was placed on the movie when Disney mentioned that Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn and Jennifer Lee would lead the film’s production. All three individuals had produced two of Disney’s highest-grossing films of all time, Frozen and Frozen 2.

Personally, I was sceptical that Wish was going to live up to Disney’s past films just after watching the trailer. The studio has been using the same storytelling plot for more of their recent movies. In Encanto and Raya and the Last Dragon, the protagonist goes on a ‘hero’s journey’ to save their village or world from an impending doom.

Additionally, with Disney holding Wish in high regards for its centennial celebration, I had set high standards for the film, from the storyline, to the animation and the soundtrack.

The Journey of Asha

Wish follows the journey of 17-year-old Asha, who resides in the village Rosas, where the people share their greatest wishes with King Magnifico, in hope that he would grant them.

As Asha interviews to become the King’s apprentice, she discovers that not everyone’s wish will be fulfilled due to the King’s fears that he will be overthrown or the land will be endangered. 

Asha decides to grant everyone’s wishes so that they can pursue it themselves as she believes that the King has no right to stop them. Assisted by her seven friends, Queen Amaya, her talking Goat, Valentino and her space companion, Star, they fulfilled the residents’ wishes and trapped King Magnifico away.

While the movie imparts to the viewers the importance of pursuing one’s dream and not letting anyone stop them, the flow felt a little rushed. 

For instance, after Asha helped her grandpa, Sabino, fulfill his wish, King Magnifico suddenly accuses Asha of stealing wishes. It was later revealed that one of Asha’s friends, Simon, exposed the former’s actions to King Magnifico out of fear. 

I believe that the movie should have included the part where Simon told King Magnifico about Asha. This would have elevated the citizens’ fear of never realising their wish and impact of King Magnifico’s evil regime.

Perfect Villain

A wish-granting sorcerer, King Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine) is the latest addition to Disney’s
list of villains. (PHOTO: Disney) 

Wish cleverly pays homage to Snow White where the seven dwarves are represented by Asha’s seven friends. The parallel extends beyond the names of the seven friends starting with the same letter as their

The more recent Disney films like Moana and Raya and the Last Dragon have a villain who seeks redemption for their wrongdoings nearing the end of the film. Although this promotes exemplary values to viewers, the villains become less memorable.

For Wish, it takes a different approach as Disney has successfully honoured past iconic villains like Scar from The Lion King, Cruella from 101 Dalmations and the Evil Queen from Snow White.

King Magnifico has all the hallmarks of a classic Disney villain as he wishes to have absolute control over the nation and their wishes. 

His hunger for power stems from his insecurity of not being the strongest, his narcissistic demeanour and the need to be respected. After being defeated, King Magnifico was trapped in his magic wand and left to hang in the dark dungeon.

Furthermore, King Magnifico has a catchy theme song filled with singing and rapping that exemplifies his insincerity and self-centered nature. In the song, he expresses how citizens of Rosas are ungrateful even after he provided them a safe haven and granted their wishes.

Past Disney Film References

As the 100th year anniversary commemorative film, many fans anticipated for there to be easter eggs of other past Disney movies. Fortunately, Wish managed to live up to fans expectations by incorporating over 100 references from films such as Snow White, Bambi, Tarzan, Robin Hood, Zootopia and many more. 

The film contains easter eggs from all 61 full-length feature films that came out before Wish. (PHOTO: Disney)

Wish cleverly pays homage to Snow White where the seven dwarves are represented by Asha’s seven friends. The parallel extends beyond the names of the seven friends starting with the same letter as their corresponding dwarves. 

Additionally, the characteristics of the seven friends are similar to the seven dwarves. For instance, Gabo, the short-tempered friend is a direct mirror of Grumpy while Dahlia, who wears glasses, is the authoritarian, just like Doc.

This subtle reference adds an extra layer of charm for fans familiar with the classic Disney movies.

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother has the ability to grant wishes which is Asha’s ultimate goal. (PHOTO: Disney)

When Asha sneaks back into the kingdom, she can be seen wearing a blue cloak with a pink ribbon, which is similar to the Fairy Godmother’s cloak in Cinderella. At the end of the movie, Asha was given the position of the nations’ Fairy Godmother and received a magical wand by Star, that looked just like the one Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother had.

Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit are two of Disney’s first few characters. (PHOTO: Disney)

Star’s heart-shaped face design was also based on iconic Disney characters, such as Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Favourite Moments

Disney first used three-dimensional animation for a full-length film in 2005, which was Chicken Little. (PHOTO: Disney)

After watching the movie, one of my favourite moments would be the film’s combination of two-dimensional and three-dimensional animation. Paying homage to earlier Disney films, the studio animated the background in a two-dimensional style. Although fans were looking forward to Wish being fully two-dimensional, many were happy as this is Disney’s first movie with two-dimensional animation since Winnie the Pooh in 2011.

Another one of my favourite moments would be seeing the diversity in characters. Wish had many characters of different races and sizes. This is especially evident with Asha’s seven friends. With releases such as Big Hero 6, Coco and Moana, Disney has realised the importance for representation and their commitment to break down barriers and embrace people of different backgrounds.

My final favourite moment would be the end-credit scene where Sabino plays an acoustic version of ‘When you wish upon a star’ from Pinocchio. The end-credit also had gold outlines of past Disney characters. Despite it being very short, the scene was sentimental and heartwarming, reminding fans of Disney’s remarkable journey throughout the years. 

Final Verdict: 3.5/5

Unfortunately, I would say that Wish was just another Disney movie. Despite the inclusion of Disney film references and nostalgia factor, the storyline lacks originality and is predictable. 

As the celebratory film for Disney’s centennial anniversary, fans like myself expected more or a twist for the plot. Sadly, Wish adheres to the same old storyline formula that has been tirelessly used in more recent Disney productions.

I believe that Disney focused too much on embracing history and evoking sentimentality seems to have overshadowed the movie’s identity. 

The movie’s message to encourage people to chase their dreams and fulfil their own wishes is a recurrent theme in past Disney films. It feels as if Disney has lost their magical touch for this movie.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed watching its tense elements and references. If you are planning to catch the movie in the cinema, I would recommend not to set high expectations on the storyline but rather for the appreciation of nostalgia and thrill to catch all the easter eggs!  

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