Disney’s 1994 film The Lion King is considered a classic family film despite some very dark moments, including the villainous Scar getting torn to shreds by vicious hyenas during the film’s climax. Modern Disney animated features tend to have much softer edges to them, but it looks like the new film Wish may be unintentionally hearkening back to Disney’s darker past. If you don’t believe us, just check the film’s reviews over on Rotten Tomatoes: critics are tearing this movie apart more brutally and more violently than a pack of hyenas ever could.
Wish Tells The Origin Story Of The Wishing Star
What is Wish about, exactly? The basic plot concerns a teenage girl named Asha who wishes upon a star in order to help fight a growing darkness in the Kingdom of Rosas that nobody else senses but her. Additionally, the movie is meant to ring in Disney’s 100th anniversary and serve as a kind of origin story for the “wishing star” that has appeared in so many Disney productions over the years.
Recycled Tunes And Callbacks That Simply Don’t Work
If the idea of creating an origin story for something as absurd and abstract as the wishing star sounds insane to you, then you won’t be surprised to learn that the critics have been downright savaging this movie. For example, Carla Hay from Culture Mix noted that despite the film’s very talented animators and actors, we are still left with songs that “are generic and derivative.”
She was also deeply unimpressed with how Wish attempts to weave in various bits of Disney history, noting how the “references to other Disney movies look more like shameless shilling than fond reminiscing.”
No Story Of Its Own
David Reddish from Wealth of Geeks generally agrees with her assessment, but his own review of Wish is even more brutal. He points out that the film is seemingly “so preoccupied with referencing other Disney movies and appealing to the broadest audience possible that it forgets to tell a story of its own.”
Judging from some of these reviews, it almost sounds like the ethos behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting to affect the animation side of Disney: hopefully, the studio’s future animations won’t be reduced to little more than fannish Easter eggs stretching out an empty runtime (like Quantumania).
Too Much Focus On Disney Marketing
Other critics think that the biggest problem with Wish is that Disney no longer seems to have either the willingness or even the ability to truly innovate. Randy Meeks from Espinof believes the movie is more the product of marketing than anything else and that the studio’s primary ethos here was “Let’s make the new Frozen.” That approach seems doubly flawed because not even Frozen II could match the quality or cultural impact of the original.
Can Disney Animated Films Ever Be Great Again?
Speaking of earlier Disney films, Josh Spiegel from SlashFilm cut right to the point with his incisive review of Wish: “Instead of watching the new Disney animated musical Wish, you’d be better off watching any number of Disney’s actual animated classics.” It’s a fair point because Disney is nominally trying to celebrate 100 years of creating animated classics, but the critical consensus seems to be that the studio merely succeeded in illustrating how far it has dropped in quality in recent years; why wouldn’t we watch some of Disney’s past bangers if the only alternatives are films like Wish that only exist to sell toys and tickets to Disney World?
At this point, it looks like Bob Iger really has his work cut out for him if he wishes to get Disney back on track as a studio: the MCU has seriously declined in quality and relevance, and now Walt Disney Animation Studios, once an industry legend, has become a shambling zombie of its former self. We’re not quite sure exactly what Iger needs to do to get the House of Mouse in order, but we have a simple suggestion: he could always try wishing on a star. Preferably one whose origin story doesn’t begin and end with creatively bankrupt executives trying to push soon-to-be shelf-warming toys ahead of the holiday shopping season.