“Encanto” is a charming film that could have been spectacular – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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With the Disney movies back in theaters, is that enough to capture the magic with this latest release?

Promotional photo for “Encanto”

With Thanksgiving weekend came the long-awaited assault on movie releases, especially from studio conglomerate, The Walt Disney Company. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, audiences unfortunately did not have any new films, in or out of theaters. As many know, the lockdowns have led families to turn to streaming services in search of entertainment, with Disney + being a major player. Exclusively in theaters, can “Encanto” move the audience away from the sofas and place them in theater seats?

The film centers on the Madrigals, a Colombian family with a special secret that interests their entire village. Ranging from super hearing to predicting the future, Madrigals and the physical house are enchanted with supernatural powers. Everyone in the family, except the protagonist, Mirabel, has these special abilities. This is revealed at the end of the musical number titled “The Family Madrigal”.

In flashbacks set before the film’s plot timeline, the Head of House, Abuela Alma, received the very first power at a river as her village was under attack. A “blessing” descended and transferred into a candle, which would then remain lit and eventually transfer magical powers to the family and their home. From then on, once a family member reaches a certain age, a door will appear and give them a room to complement their new abilities. As Mirabel has no capacity, she is forced to enter the nursery of the house.

The main story begins when Mirabel’s youngest relative, her cousin Antonio, receives her gift: the ability to understand and talk to animals. The whole village celebrates the occasion in Antonio’s new bedroom, which is a large and luxurious rainforest. After a while, they decide to take a family photo, excluding Mirabel. She then freezes the situation internally to sing the second number entitled “Waiting On A Miracle”. Each shot is beautiful and vibrant in its color palette.

Once the song is over and the family photo is taken, Mirabel notices some strange events in the house and is rejected by those around her. She later suspects that her older sister Luisa saw them as well. Confronted with Mirabel, Luisa sings her own song about feeling family pressure in the upcoming musical number, “Surface Pressure”. The song itself is hugely moving but upbeat, with the upbeat tempo and pessimism in the lyrics clashing with each other. Following this, Mirabel sees that her cousin Bruno’s last vision is that she would destroy or save her family in the events to come.

Several smaller storylines distract from its execution, but the plot quickens as the house and the candle flame are mysteriously eradicated. With the family’s powers gone and the house destroyed, Mirabel escapes to where the magic began: to the river where Abuela Alma received her power. After learning more about his Abuela’s story, the two get closer and get to work repairing the house with the help of family and villagers. Soon Mirabel is able to install her own door to the house and it comes to life, bringing back the powers of the family. The film’s final shot is a family photo that includes Mirabel, smiling and finally feeling like part of the family. After leaving the cinema with my friends, we all agreed to give the film three stars. Nobody liked the movie and nobody hated it with passion. It was a pretty forgettable movie, with all of us shrugging and going through our day immediately after.

I would describe the movie as akin to a Disney animated short, just longer. The premise is cute but there wasn’t a whole lot of substance beyond the nice animation. Compared to other recent Disney movies, the songs aren’t as catchy and much of the movie is forgotten even hours after viewing. If you want a ‘fun in the moment’ movie then this might be the one for you. If you want a movie that will impact your life in the long run, you might want to skip this one.

Sierra Thornton can be reached at [email protected].

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