December 1, 2021 – Encanto, like most Disney films of its type, is filled with color and lively music, promoting the qualities of diversity, family and community, hidden inside a story about magic.
Encanto begins with a kind of flashback to a dark scene of terror and oppression. A group of people is forced from their Columbian village and are forced to flee on foot, chased by murderous riders on horseback. One man turns back to heroically confront the pursuers, and is killed, while the villagers, along with his wife, Alma Madrigal, and three children escape into the mountains, which magically appear to block the pursuit.
After their narrow escape, Alma's candle, which has become a magical encanto, thanks to the sacrifice of her husband, creates a magical village in the mountains. The village becomes a haven for the dispossessed. The encanto creates a magnificent, sentient casita where Alma's family lives. Each member of Alma's family is gifted with supernatural powers, as well as their own special room in the casita. The power of the encanto, and the magical powers of Alma's family help to protect the village.
Trouble comes to this paradise when Bruno, a man with the magical gift of seeing the future, has a vision which shows the encanto losing its power. Bruno is banished by Alma, who doesn't want to hear of the end of her magical reign in the village. More trouble happens when Mirabel participates in a ceremony to receive her magical powers, but unlike all her predecessors in Alma's family, including Bruno, she gets no magical powers.
Despite being excluded from the magic, Mirabel seems to be a normal girl who is happy living in the magic casita, surrounded by her important family with magical powers. These powers range from the ability to make flowers out of nothing, to having supernatural strength, to being able to talk to animals, to being able to control the weather, etc.
One day, Mirabel has a vision of her own, and she sees, like Bruno before her, a vision of the end of the magic casita and the end of the encanto as well. Mirabel decides that the vision is real, the village is in danger, and it is up to her to find a way to save the village, since nobody else will believe her.
This story, which seems to be a bit over-complicated by an array of magical rules and procedures, boils down to the idea that supernatural magical powers are less important than the bonds of family, friendship and community. People are stronger together when they can rely on each other, instead of magic.
The animation is bright and colorful. The characters are appealing, and the music, by Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In the Heights”) who seems to be omnipresent these days, is lively and the songs are better than what you hear in most musicals. I didn't find the story to be very compelling, since it gets bogged down in a lot of sluggish magical mumbo jumbo. The character of Mirabel is very appealing, but I found many of the others suffer from somewhat hazy motivations. These problems make the movie seem longer than it really is (102 minutes).
In the end, I think the many positives of this movie outweigh its lack of focus. This movie rates a B.
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