Sunday, February 20, 2022


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Charise Castro Smith
Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, Maria Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitan, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama, Rhenzy Feliz, Ravi Cabot-Conyers, Adassa, Maluma, Rose Portillo, Juan Castano
Genre: Animation, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
Titan producing and distributing studio Disney released two animated features in 2021, with the most recent one being "Encanto", which was preceded by "Raya and the Last Dragon". "Encanto" hails from directors Jared Bush, Byron Howard, with co-direction of Charise Castro Smith, the latter also one of the responsible writers for the story and screenplay. Jared Bush and Byron Howard had previously worked in the very successful "Zootopia", and this film once more dazzles with an impeccable aesthetic and animation, lacking more in terms of narrative or arc for its characters. The film follows the story of Maribel, a Colombian teenager who lives in the idyllic village of Encanto, one that has flourished throughout the years thanks to the magic that lives within her family. That magic has been trickling through the generations since her grandmother had to flee her own hometown due to an armed conflict with nothing but her triplets and her husband. When her grandmother also loses her husband, the candle she was carrying magically protects her and her family, also creating a magical house, and in the process granting her children magical abilities. Since then, every Madrigal child goes through a rite of passage, where they're granted a special ability, with the exception of Maribel. She seems to be only one with no special abilities. However Mirabel starts having visions of the family's magical abode cracking, and desperately wants to prevent this from happening. Only the more she tries, the worse things get. 
What made "Zootopia" so instantly endearing, aside from the great animation, was the fact that it toyed with known story archetypes, namely the innocent hero in a big city, and married them with all the flurry of animal characteristics that populated that particular detective narrative. "Encanto" goes in a slightly different direction, trying to bring some of Isabel Allende's magical aspects of her narratives into a story about a "different duckling" (somehow applying the term "ugly duckling" doesn't seem accurate for the story at play). The story of the under-appreciated and underrepresented Maribel could have fared far better, was it not for the fact that all the supporting characters, including the figurehead of the family, grandmother Alma have so very little to do and say, the same going even for the cultural identity of the family and where they actually live. Unlike what Pixar studios did so superbly with "Coco", where the cultural heritage of the young hero, and the family dynamics were cleverly illustrated, with both heart and joy, in the process also joyously tackling a rather somber topic such as death, "Encanto" makes the whole narrative almost very generic and devoid of identity (something that also transpires into the mediocre score that is heard throughout the film). In the end, when all is seen and done, what is left is some truly great animation, a fantastic explosion of colors, all of which make the film watchable, but not memorable. It's a cleverly put together, yet generic effort from Disney which could have benefited from some far better writing.