As what is supposed to be a culmination of 100 years of storytelling and animation, Wish struggles with standing on its own as an original feature and attempting to be an amalgamation of the stories that preceded it.
Young Asha makes a wish so powerful that it’s answered by a cosmic force, a little ball of boundless energy called Star. With Star’s help, Asha must save her kingdom from King Magnifico and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
For a film that is meant to be a tribute to the legacy of Walt Disney Animation Studios, the end result feels like an overly ambitious project that tries too hard to squeeze “look-and-point” moments into a rather anticlimactic story. The homages paid to past Disney films from a narrative standpoint end up coming across as formulaic rather than feeling like a proper tribute, making for an unremarkable story to add to Disney’s increasingly generic catalog of recent years.
That said, these “nods” are where the films finds most of its heart, as its lead character Asha unfortunately shares the same issue as the plot of the film itself which is being a coalescence of her predecessors’ personalities rather than having her own unique character traits. It’s clear what the film tries to allude to with Asha, her companions, and other elements of the story, and while it’s sentimental to have that feeling of familiarity, it ultimately does come off as nostalgia bait even if it is admittedly endearing at times.
What isn’t as endearing however and was an issue brought up prior to the film’s release is the attempt to be innovative by recreating a 2D animation style with 3D technology. This aspect of the film especially comes across as a lazy effort to pay homage to the studio’s roots of traditional hand-drawn animation in which they were the in top of the industry at. The art style and backgrounds themselves are beautiful but because they’re a mesh of different animation styles, everything looks rather flat and there’s not much depth, making certain things look like unfinished renders. Recent films such as Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse had the same premise but with much better execution and this just goes to show how far Disney is falling behind their competitors.
Had they stuck to one single idea, Wish could’ve and would’ve been a very fulfilling landmark to commemorate 100 years of Walt Disney Animation Studios, but instead it just barely scratches the surface and is just dissatisfying in the slightest. Regardless, there is some soul to be found within it and long-time Disney fans are sure to appreciate the pay-off, even if there isn’t much.
Wish releases in theaters on November 22.