Encanto Review

Disney has recently been on a bit of a role with their animated films recently. Most of them have been pretty good and a few of them, like Zootropolis, Frozen and Moana, are in the top tier of Disney animation. With Jared Bush and Byron Howard returning as directors and Lin Manuel-Miranda once again working with Disney on the songs, I had high hopes for Encanto and, I’m glad to say, the film surpassed them.

The film follows the Madrigal family, who, whilst escaping an armed conflict, came into possession of a magical candle that created the enchanted Castia for the family, along with giving each member of the family a gift. However, one member of the family, Mirabel, did not receive a gift and has always felt a bit of an outsider as a result. The events of the film focus on the magic of Casita starting to fade and crack, with it being up to Mirabel to find out what is happening and fix it. What works really well about the film is how small it feels, compared to a lot of other Disney films. Sure there is a lot of magic throughout the film, but the film, for the most part, stays confined to Casita. The main conflict of the film is an internal one, focused entirely within the family dynamic of the Madrigals, with the action of the film mostly staying within Casita. The magic allows for imaginative landscapes to be created in each room of the house, allowing each scene to feel distinct, helping to build up the characters and create a strong visual style for them.

The main thing that works about the film though is the way it focuses on the mental health of the characters. We see the pressures that each character is put under, such as the pressure to be perfect and feelings of inadequacy and guilt through not being able to live up to expectations placed upon them, and how those manifest both internally and externally. I don’t want to go into more detail for fear of spoiling the film but I found a lot of what the film discussed in terms of mental health to be important and profound, especially for a family film, and I feel there will be a lot of younger people who watch the film and find it important for them in understanding their own mental health.

The character animation and voice work does a good job at conveying the different characters well. Each of them have a distinct feel that helps them to stand out and the way each of them move helps to convey the personality of the characters. The standouts in terms of performances in this area are Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, Maria Cecilia Botero and Diana Guerrero. There is a part of me that wanted Olga Merediz, who did the singing voice for Botero’s character, to do the full role, but it was still great to hear her singing voice in the film. The animation for Casita as well gives it an anthropomorphic quality that further helps to give life to the film and, even though there aren’t really any parts that give Casita something like facial expressions, you know what is being felt and how it interacts with the family.

The songs by Lin Manuel-Miranda are of the high quality you come to expect from his work. There’s a clear sense of character for each of them and he knows how to write melodies that stick in your head. They all work in expanding the story and tone of the film and the animation for each of the scenes is excellent, further demonstrating how the songs work to enhance the film.

Overall, I found Encanto to be a very impressive film. The animation and music is excellent, as is to be expected from Disney right now, but the writing for the characters and the focus on mental health is what makes this stand out and puts it high up there with other recent Disney films. I think that some of the characters could have been focused on a bit more, but on the whole this is an excellent film.

My Rating: 4.5/5

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