Disney’s ‘Encanto’ enchants with stunning visual effects, touching exploration of family dynamics

Chandler Rowley, Life & Arts General Reporter

“Encanto,” the latest release from Walt Disney Animation Studios, centers around the Madrigal family, tucked away in an idyllic mountain village in Colombia called the Encanto. Each member of the family possesses a magical gift ranging from super strength to clairvoyance, but teenage Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) wields no power. When the forces holding the family’s magic together begin to falter, the ordinary Madrigal must confront difficult familial truths to ensure the village’s survival. 

With an animation powerhouse like Disney at the helm, ground-breaking artistry and minute attention to detail seem almost a given. “Encanto” surpasses Disney’s standard, delivering one of the most visually stunning films in recent memory. The vibrancy of the film’s wide-ranging color palette, captures the audience’s attention and refuses to let go. The inclusion of dynamically colored local Colombian flowers and traditional attire displays the filmmakers’ skillful animation and their concerted effort toward cultural accuracy. 

The superb animation paired with ornate musical numbers creates a visual and auditory experience rivaled only by other Disney films. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Broadway smash hits, “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,” serves as the principal songwriter for the whimsical film. Miranda’s songs, with their spoken-word rap and masterful weaving of multiple singers at once, reveals the Madrigal family’s relationship dynamics. Each number, while aesthetically pleasing, teems with exposition, ensuring the verses propel the narrative forward. 

Beatriz’s vocal performance provides an authenticity that perfectly captures the potential tolls of familial conflict. As the only family member without powers, Mirabel falls to the wings of the proverbial Madrigal family stage. Yet, the ordinary Madrigal celebrates the powers and accomplishments of her family, concealing her frustration for the sake of her loved ones. Though her selflessness and dedication to her family serves as an asset, these virtues lead to the ultimate conflict at the end of the film. 

The film slowly builds towards an other-worldly climax precipitated by Mirabel’s relationship with her family, especially Abuela Alma (María Cecilia Botero). A painfully simple solution ultimately solves the seemingly complex issue at hand, making the audience wonder what purpose the previous 30 minutes of exposition served. The ending provides both the audience and the “Encanto” with a degree of closure, but one can’t help notice that the last 10 minutes of the film feel rushed. 

“Encanto” transports the viewer to the fantastical world of the Madrigal family and serves as a tasteful homage to Colombia’s rich culture. The attention to detail by the film’s animators paired with equally refined songs by Miranda delivers a movie-going experience unlike any other.

Disney’s animated films aren’t known for being overly complex; however, the simplicity and brevity of the climax may leave audience members scratching their heads. 

4.5 Magical gifts out of 5