Though this new animation film from Disney doesn’t roll out something absolutely fresh, it pieces together enough feel-good elements from the studio’s much-loved cinematic universe to showcase the adventures of yet another gritty young woman, Asha (which means ‘hope’ in Hindi). The musical packs oodles of cuteness, several songs, magic and conflicts for a fun ride that would make for a perfect family viewing with young ones.
Riding on nostalgia associated with classic tales, the film boasts of a talented team with Oscar-winning actor Ariana DeBose being cast as Asha; Chris Pine as Magnifico; Angelique Cabral as graceful Queen Amaya and Alan Tudyk as Asha’s favorite goat, Valentino. The film is helmed by director Chris Buck (‘Frozen’ and ‘Frozen 2’) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (story writer of ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’) — both of them have successful titles to their credit. Thematically, the film, which celebrates 100 years of Disney, seems to be inspired by the song ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ that features in the 1940-film Pinocchio.
The beating heart of Wish is the spirited commoner Asha. She senses the darkness in the heart of Magnifico, the king of Rosas, an island city in the Mediterranean with a fairytale-like charm. The handsome Magnifico, who loves himself more than anything else, is also a sorcerer. He makes the people of Rosas hand over their wishes once they turn 18 in the hope that he will make them come true one day. While being interviewed by Magnifico for the job of his apprentice, Asha realises that he has no plans of granting most of the wishes ever. This eventually leads to a face-off between the two. The tussle between them intensifies when Asha finds an ally in a Flubber-like star with magical powers and Magnifico wants to acquire it.
While the basic idea behind this movie — a powerful ruler taking away the dreams and hope of the citizens — is interesting, the 98-minute-long movie never becomes gripping. The filmopts to keep the storyline fairly uncomplicated. The songs by singer-songwriter Julia Michaels and Benjamin Rice add to the movie’s dominant joyous vibe. They are performed well by DeBose and Pine. The arrival of the golden-hued star adds some spice to the narrative as sprinkling stardust on shrubs, plants and animals make them come alive in a magical way as they talk, dance and swing.
In spite of the storyline being predictable, the film remains entertaining as it has some enjoyable sequences and catchy lines. As its protagonist, Asha might not be able to outdo many of her Disney predecessors, but she definitely makes her mark along with Queen Amaya, who claims what she deserves.w