Wish review: A beautiful love letter to Disney’s century of animation

Latest release from the film studio tells the magical story of a fictional kingdom

Wish, Disney's latest release, helps the studio to mark 100 years of filmmaking. Photo: Disney
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Walt Disney Animation Studios is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The studio is the cornerstone of the entertainment company and consistently produced films and TV shows over the past century.

The latest film to join the illustrious list of work produced by the Walt Disney Studios is Wish. It is a story of dreams, aspirations and the hope for a better world.


Directors: Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn
Stars: Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, Alan Tudyk
Rating: 3.5/5

Directed by Chris Buck (director of Frozen, Frozen 2 and Tarzan) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (story artist on Moana, Frozen and Zootropolis), the film takes place in the whimsical kingdom of Rosas and tells the story of the magical King Magnifico (Chris Pine) who can conjure spells and make the wishes of his people come true.

The king frequently asks his people to attend ceremonies and share their ultimate wishes with him. He then protects the wishes in his castle until he decides when, or if, to grant them.

There is, of course, a catch. Once the wish is given to Magnifico, the wisher immediately forgets what it is.

The film’s protagonist is Asha (Ariana DeBose), a young citizen of Rosas who attempts to become the king’s apprentice and learn magic.

Wish's spellbinding animation

The quality of animation from Walt Disney Studios has become exponentially better and more vivid with every film release.

Looking back to 1937 and the release of Snow White, going through the golden age of Beauty and the Beast (1991) and more recently Frozen (2013) – the animated films have become more alive each time.

Wish takes all the lessons learnt and beauty conjured throughout the past century and presents a breathtaking world. The characters show emotions including sorrow and joy in ways previously only experienced with live-action films.

Rosas is a an enchanting setting, with Iberian-influenced architecture and scenery.

A standout character in the film is a little cartoon star, named Star, who comes down to Earth after being wished on by Asha. Star delivers moments of humour as the film’s plot becomes more serious. I can already picture toy shop shelves stacked high with stuffed replicas of the cute character.

A century of celebration

The film has been released as Disney marks its centenary this year, and that is obvious from the start.

During the opening credits, the style and font harkens back to some of Disney’s earliest classics, with the opening of a fairy tale book accompanied by a narration that sets the scene.

By the end of the film, the credits show images of some of Disney’s most beloved characters from the past 100 years.

The self-referential string is apparent in the plot. When Asha wishes on a star, she echoes the lyrics from When You Wish Upon a Star, the Leigh Harline song from 1940 animation Pinocchio. The song has become an anthem of sorts for all things Disney, including its parks.

A film for the family to enjoy together

The music in Wish lets it down at times. Some of the songs are sub-par, compared with what we’ve come to expect from Disney films.

However, there is still a lot to enjoy in Wish. Families will want to go and see it together, taking in all of the Disney charm.

For adults, the film delivers nostalgia by the bucket load and brings back some of the childhood magic so many felt while watching Disney animations as children.

Wish is out in UAE cinemas on November 23

Updated: November 20, 2023, 7:13 AM

Directors: Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn
Stars: Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, Alan Tudyk
Rating: 3.5/5