REVIEW: Disney’s ‘Encanto’ is mostly average

“Encanto” invites audiences to spend time at a home where residents have various super powers.

It’s like a less intense version of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) is the main character in “Encanto,” and also happens to be the one member of her family without powers, making her the odd one out. For generations, her family has been gifted with powers, allowing them to create a safe, comfortable community in Columbia.

In most cases, Mirabel is overshadowed in her family, especially by her older sisters Luisa (Jessica Darrow) and Isabela (Diane Guerrero). However, she uncovers an issue with the source of her family’s magic and becomes the one person determined to set things right, even without powers.

“Encanto” has a lot of elements that often work in films from Walt Disney Animation, such as a likable, determined protagonist,  a vibrant visual style and music created by a talented artist. Despite having that formula, though, “Encanto” just earns mediocre scores.

There are several good moments throughout “Encanto,” ranging from funny to heartwarming, yet the parts never come together for a satisfying whole. So much of the storytelling feels too conventional, to where scenes in between some of the better moments can cause a viewer to lose interest.

There are very few surprises or moments that really wow an audience. While there’s plenty in “Encanto” to charm a viewer, with a mix of cute moments and music that one can tap their foot to. That doesn’t mean that it truly hooks a person in the same way other Disney flicks from the last decade have.

The film’s stakes also feel rather low. Not that this genre often has huge problems to tackle, but the main issue at hand in this movie doesn’t feel entirely catastrophic.

EncantoBlog
Courtesy Walt Disney Animation.

This wouldn’t be as big of an issue if the characters had been more interesting to follow. But while Mirabel is a likable enough protagonist, the way her character arc ultimately plays out feels unsatisfying.

She’s a character an audience wants to root for, and Beatriz puts a lot of energy into the role. It’s a character one can admire, which makes the movie watchable, but her journey doesn’t feel entirely compelling.

It’s also disappointing how many of the side characters feel pushed off to the side. Most notably, Mirabel’s sisters Luisa and Isabela. The film is actually at its best when the trio are interacting, but it doesn’t happen nearly enough.

Music-wise, “Encanto” is very middle of the road. There are a few catchy songs, and they properly connect to the characters and the story, but they never move a viewer to the levels that the songs in “Frozen” or “Moana” did.

Being a Disney production, the feature of course looks great. The animation is visually superb, especially during the musical numbers. There’s a scene featuring Mirabel and Isabela that’s the highlight of the movie because of how how much is going on.

There was definitely a vision for “Encanto,” it was clearly a project with passion behind it. However, the results in a lot of areas are middling. 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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