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REVIEW: Disney’s “Wish” is a heartwarming homage to 100 years of magic

Cover art for Disney’s “Wish.” (Courtesy of Disney)

Disney debuts “Wish” in the year of its 100th  anniversary and pays tribute to the studio’s years of magic. Audiences can look for numerous references made to “Bambi,” “Peter Pan,” “Mary Poppins” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” Disney is known for their beautiful animation that inspires generations and “Wish” is no different. The scenery and character design appear as though it is from a storybook.  

The movie takes place in the City of Rosas, an island where people go to fulfill their dreams. Rosas was created by King Magnifico (Chris Pine) to protect its people and their hopes. The city is a blend of cultures and ethnicities tied together by their shared beliefs. Magnifico is a sorcerer who watches over his people’s wishes and grants those he sees worthy.  

Alongside Pine, “Wish” stars Ariana DeBose, a North Carolina local, as Asha. She is a courageous girl who will do anything for the people she loves. With her goat, Valentino (Alan Tudyk), Asha embarks on a journey to restore wishes to the people of Rosas and encounters challenges that test her determination.  

Ariana Debose as Asha in “Wish.” (Courtesy of Disney)

Queen Amaya (Angelique Cabral) enchants the screen with her strong and loving spirit. She is Magnifico’s wife and is loved by the people of Rosas. Her character development leaves an impression on the audience as she chooses between following her heart or doing what is expected of her. She shows that change only occurs with action and not by standing idly by. 

DeBose’s voice captures the hearts of the audience in the ballad “This Wish.” Her strong vocals and inspiring lyrics in this song are pivotal moments in the movie. “At All Costs” is another standout song as it foreshadows the events that play out while Disney shows off their stunning animation. “Knowing What I Know Now” is a Broadway-like musical number that demonstrates the importance of fighting for justice.  

Wish” is reminiscent of many Disney classics, but there are areas where it falls short of this standard. The beginning of the movie is rushed and Asha’s motivations are unclear. Her character is flat, but this is corrected as the movie progresses and Asha’s personality begins to shine. Asha’s character needs a backstory, similar to the one in “Tangled,” to explain her values and her family history. This will allow audiences to have a stronger understanding of why Asha makes the decisions she does on her journey. 

The movie conveys the relationship between power and one’s autonomy through Magnifico’s reign. Magnifico is the only person in Rosas who can grant wishes, giving him power over his people’s thoughts and decisions. It is interesting to see how his power is challenged as the events of the movie play out. 

Chris Pine as King Magnifico in “Wish.” (Courtesy of Disney)

The overarching message of “Wish” is that generosity is the most powerful magic of all. Asha’s story shows the difference helping others makes in her community.  

Disney’s “Wish” is a must-see movie for all ages as it reminds audiences of the Disney classics they watched growing up. Audiences will not want to miss the touching end-credit scene that brings closure to Asha’s journey. The themes of magic and hope present in “Wish” continue to inspire future generations as Disney creates moving stories with valuable messages.  

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