Encanto Marks a New Height for Disney’s Animations

Stunningly animated, scored, and written--Encanto might indicate a new era for Disney

Reader Rating0 Votes
A unique take on the Disney Princess trope
A refreshing story, accompanied by refreshing characters
Great music and animation!
The pacing is a little jarring, but not really an issue.

Every now and then, even in genres so classic, and from studios so old, a new experience is unleashed. And while Encanto isn’t an entirely groundbreaking new venture from the magic of Disney, it certainly comes as close to being one as a movie can.

Disney’s formula for its animated movies have been largely fixed for the better part of a century now. While they’ve made the very welcome transition towards shifting the agency of the plot towards their female protagonists (upon whom the best Disney films have been built), the trend soon saw these heroines often being ripe and ready for recruitment into the X-Men. From Rapunzel to Elsa, the strength of character in a vast majority of Disney characters always seemed to lie in their special abilities. Encanto does it differently.

Turning the “chosen one” narrative on its head, Encanto delivers an exceptionally normal protagonist surrounded by loved ones who all boast special abilities. As the trailer so endearingly puts it, perhaps her special ability is the power of denial.

But where Disney shifts the narrative for Encanto’s Mirabel from the typical story format we’re used to, they do take a leaf (or a tree) from Pixar in execution of tale and character arcs. Not that that’s a bad thing in any way–the world could certainly use a helluva lot more Pixar. And while a distinctive difference between Pixar and its sister studio’s content has been the use of music (Coco and Soul are pretty much as close as it gets to musicals for Pixar), Encanto explores a new use under the guidance of Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Miranda’s unique use of music and lyrics are distinctive across the movie, reminiscent of his previous Disney outing in Moana, but still a unique experience unto itself. And while Encanto’s numbers may not be quite as singalong-friendly as “You’re Welcome” or other songs from Moana, they’re undoubtedly fated for Spotify greatness.

Miranda’s music as well as Byron Howard and Jared Bush’s directing are rounded off stunningly by the amazing cast led by Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Stephanie Beatriz. Furthermore, resisting the desire to engage in stun casting, and maintaining the cultural roots of the characters with actors, pays off in the sincerity of the performances.

While there are many good reasons to celebrate Encanto and the possible future it may indicate for the future of Disney’s animated features, the true wonder is the unique spin of the protagonist being different from many of Disney’s usual princess fare–almost the anti-Elsa of sorts–and the promise she holds for the many movies to come.

Encanto is out in theatres now!