Disney’s ‘Encanto’ fails to deliver Madrigal magic


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Protagonist, Mirabel, making a unique facial expression.

Spencer Woodbury, Editor

Ah Disney, a company that has lately become famous for rehashing their beloved classic films and pumping out mediocre new movies. With “Coco” arguably being Disney’s only true gem in the past five years, many critics, including me, have been nervous and skeptical on whether Disney could bring back the magic. With Disney’s latest animated film, “Encanto”, recently taking the world by storm, I will be examining whether it is another bland Disney film or one that will be talked about for years to come.

“Encanto” follows the peculiar Madrigal family who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia in a place called Encanto. The magic of Encanto blesses every young child in the family with a unique gift, except for Mirabel, the film’s protagonist. However, Mirbael will soon be the Madrigal’s final hope when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is now in danger.

Although many Disney fans love “Encanto”, it truly is the pure embodiment of a time killer. The concept of writing characters with a static trait is unique and difficult. When you think of a well written character in a movie you think of someone like Darth Vader. Darth Vader is a character who undergoes major changes throughout the “Star Wars” films. He is a mentally and physically complex character who undergoes unique challenges and overcomes them. But unlike Darth Vader, all of the characters in “Encanto” are forgettable and under-written. 

I was originally intrigued by the idea of defining the characters through one trait and having them struggle with only being seen by the one quality. This idea has become more and more prevalent throughout the years due to recent racial, sexual and gender issues, but unfortunately the writers fell very short. Many of the characters only have a few seconds of screen time discussing their issue of acceptance and then are pushed to the side once the magic of Encanto becomes endangered. 

The musical numbers written by Lin-Manuel Miranda were awkward and felt out of place. When Luisa, a character with the gift of strength, began to sing about her issues of struggling under the weight of expectations, I could hardly contain myself from laughing. The song came out of nowhere and the singer’s voice did not fit well with the original voice actor of Luisa.

The animation quality of “Encanto” is nothing to write home about. Many of the character designs were unoriginal and reused from other Disney films, such as Felix who looks exactly like Maui from “Moana”. In addition, the pacing of the film is abysmal. The first act of the movie is extremely slow and the second act is bland. Based on the poor performance of the first and second act, all the third act would have to do is simply exist. Unfortunately, “Encanto” does not have a third act. When the Madrigal family resolved their issues and conflicts the movie became very muddy and rushed.

“Encanto” is a children’s movie that was clearly intended for parents to put on so their screaming children would quiet down for a couple of hours. The fact that this movie received an Oscar nomination for best animated feature baffles me. If you are ever having trouble sleeping at night put “Encanto” on and you will be out within seconds. I would recommend watching “Grave of the Fireflies” or any other well received children’s movie instead. ★★☆☆☆