Since the announcement of Disney’s feature film “Wish” in January 2022 and its early stages of development in 2018, fans of Disney have been anticipating and dreading the centennial benchmark of the company. Yet, already, the $200 million film is tanking in the box office with $50 million.
The film follows Asha, a girl in an island kingdom called Rosas, where she desires to be the King’s apprentice, mainly because she wants the King to grant her grandfather’s, her mother’s, and her own wishes, and possibly her friends’ wishes. The premise being that the island’s people willingly give their wishes to the King at the age of 18, and he then grants one wish a year. The other caveat being that the wisher forgets their wish once they give it to him.
Asha later finds out that the King is not granting certain wishes because they are too vague or could be dangerous. She also realizes he is vain and wants to keep his power, but also that he wants to keep Rosas safe in his own way. Still, she believes that the wishes should be freed and the people should make their own wishes come true if he won’t grant them.
So she wishes on a star and that star falls down and is there to help her free the wishes for the most part. There were also a handful of other characters like the Queen, and Asha’s friends, but they are often forgettable background characters with unimaginative design.
Many wished that the film would bring Disney back to its roots or at least that it would live up to its masterpieces including “Mulan,” “Robin Hood” or “Aladdin.” While the film could be marketed as a family film like its predecessors, it is not. “Wish” is a children’s film with a morally questionable message that goes against the age old mantra of “Be careful what you wish for” and “You can’t always get what you want.” But even with such a simple idea of fulfilling your own wishes, the execution leads to an anticlimactic conclusion.
Critics and audience alike have pointed out the incongruency of plot and characters between the first half and second half of the film— Where they feel like two different writers. King Magnifico in particular was advertised as a classic “pure evil” villain, however, the film failed to execute a believable arc for him. Which is a shame he really stole the show. Asha also was a promising character and an iconic design, but looked out of place aesthetically from her co-characters.
Many people hoped that Disney would reenter the animated innovation of the 2020s against international successes like Dreamworks’ “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and Sony’s “Across the Spider-Verse.” However, “Wish” ironically has no shine or magic compared to these two films or its renaissance predecessors. Not to mention how Disney barely advertised the “Wish” movie release on Nov. 22.
That’s not even touching on the reception of the music in this film. A major gripe with many folks is that Disney hired pop song writers as opposed to musical theater lyricists which may have resulted in lyrics that brought the viewers out of the story.
Unfortunately, the film, while visually pleasing in some scenes, was overall lackluster and “safe” in comparison to its contemporaries including Pixar’s “Elementals.”
Not to mention that the film makes constant references to other Disney movies, which is nothing new to their films, where even the dark film “Hunchback of Notre Dame” uses cameos for comedic effect. However, the difference between those films and “Wish” is that “Wish” does not stand on its own as a “tale as old as time.”
For many viewers, it is not timeless enough with themes and motifs at any age, mainly because the film has no central theme. Instead, the references to the company’s legacy reminds viewers of better films to spend their money and time on. If the audience doesn’t think too deeply about the worldbuilding or implications of the plot, the movie is simply okay.