In all my years of movie-watching, animation has always been one of my favorite genres, even if many of these movies are often catered to children. However, as I've gotten older, I've started to realize that many animated movies often have little moments of inspiration or story that really only adults can appreciate, creating an enriching experience for those who have watched it.
Encanto is one of those movies that not only had me smiling from ear to ear thanks to its beautiful animation, but amazing story that I connected to on a deeper level.
From its banging music to the colors to the representation, Encanto is not only one of the best Disney movies I've seen in years, but one of the best animated movies in a long time. Keep in mind that there might be slight spoilers in this if you haven’t seen the movie, but all in all, I’m going to try and explain to you as to why Encanto is definitley one of my new favorite Disney movies.
The Animation Is Amazingly Beautiful
While it’s no surprise that the animation of a Disney movie is fantastic, Encanto took it to a whole new level. CGI is often used for animated movies today, from Disney to Dreamworks, so not really much can surprise me anymore in terms of new ways in which something can be animated. But for the first time in a while, I was stunned on a visual scale with Encanto and its animation. It is hands-down beautiful.
The last time I felt truly impressed by an animated movie was a solid tie between Coco and How To Train Your Dragon 3, both for their impressive visual detail and attention to the smallest moments. When Miguel played his guitar in Coco, you can tell he’s playing the actual chords. Or when the dragons are flying into the hidden world in the third How To Train Your Dragon, those colors always pop right off.
But Encanto took that crown this year. The opening sequence alone where Mirabel is in sync with the house, showing off all of the amazing powers that her family has, moving from scene to scene - the amount of time it must have taken for those animators to painfully make sure everything looked perfect, amazes me. And the expressions of each of the characters were so well-done. I loved every second of it.
The Songs Are Even Catchier Than Some Of Disney’s Best Music
I mean, the songs were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda so you know the soundtrack is going to be a hit, but the Encanto soundtrack just hits differently. I mean, the fact that “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” has reached “Let It Go’s” spot on the Billboard Hot 100 should speak for itself, but the music in Encanto is not only incredibly catchy, but has deep meaning behind it, something I freaking love.
Disney has always had some impressive music, from their chart-topping singles to their fun soundtracks - I could listen to the Hercules soundtrack all day - but something about Encanto’s music is just full of pure life. The music sequences of these songs as well are so colorful and well-done, not only to represent the song but the themes behind it.
Just watch the sequence for “Surface Pressure,” the song sung by Luisa about her pressure being the eldest sibling in the family and trying to live up to the pressure of her power. Not only is the song a banger, but the animation shows just how serious her anxiety and fear is, showing how she feels she can’t have any mistakes while singing of her hope that one day, she can just feel free and not have this constant pressure on her. It’s wonderful song-writing.
Can someone just give Miranda his Oscar already?
The Colombian Representation Is Spot-On
While I am not the best person to speak on this (as I grew up Puerto-Rican rather than Colombian), I have been exposed to Colombian culture several times in the past through family members and friends, and I can admit that the representation in Encanto is on par with movies such as Coco.
From the food (does anyone else want to try the Arepas or is it just me?), to the clothing, to even the architecture of the small town they live in, that all centered around Casita - everything was so meticulously researched and done perfectly that I can’t find any fault.
As someone who grew up with a mixed family, I can also appreciate the fact that not everyone in the Madrigal family looked the same. Everyone had different skin colors, expressions, and everything else in-between, but at the end of the day, they were still family.
Encanto offers so much representation to so many children across the world - just look at this cute moment between a small boy and Antonio in Encanto. We never would have been blessed with this sweet moment if this movie didn’t come out.
Mirabel Is A Genuinely Relatable Protagonist
Look. I love people who have magic powers as much as the next person. I grew up watching the Harry Potter series. I love magic. But at the end of the day, sometimes I just want a protagonist I can relate to.
While there have been plenty of Disney heroes, such as Moana in Moana or even Elsa from Frozen, who have gone on amazing adventures, I can’t really relate to what they’re doing. I didn’t have the sea choose me to go on a death-defying adventure to restore the heart of Tafiti. I don't have magical ice powers that I have to come to terms with and use to help others. I'm just a normal girl.
Does it make for a fun story? Of course it does. But I also want to watch someone where not only I feel, but children around me feel, that we can do what they do. We can be the hero. And that’s where Mirabel comes into play.
She doesn’t have any powers. That’s what makes her special in her family. Her power is the ability to bring her family back together, and that’s something we can all relate to. She uses her sheer wit, grit, and skills to try and figure out what the issue was that was causing Casita to fall apart. And at the end of the day, that's what allows her to save the day.
It’s almost comforting to see that a girl that has no magic as the hero of this story. That someone that’s so ordinary can be the one to save the day. Mirabel is special in her own way, a powerhouse of a young woman, who takes this challenge upon herself to reunite her family, and that’s something I truly love about her. She’s quirky in all the right ways, and a hero that I believe deserves the same amount of respect as the others.
The Story Doesn’t Necessarily Have A Villain - Which Is A Great Thing
There are some iconic Disney villains. I’d go so far to say that there are some that deserve their own movies just like Maleficent. I could go on for days about some of the villains in movies like Hunchback of Notre Dame, Coco, The Lion King and more.
But sometimes, you don’t need a villain. Sometimes, all you need is a conflict. And that’s what Encanto has, and it thrives on that.
Encanto is a family film. While it’s a Disney movie and catered towards children, it is a family film upfront, as it focuses completely on the Madrigal family. There isn’t a villain in this story, at least not one that’s confirmed.
You could say that maybe Abuela is the villain, but at the end of the day, her conflict is that she’s only afraid to lose the miracle Casita gave her, so she is harsh on her family to make sure they use their gifts wisely - not taking into account how they want to use their gifts.
Her character development near the end - as well as the rest of the Madrigal family - is essential in this film, as it shows that not every Disney movie needs a scary villain. The conflict in this was that a family needed to come together to heal, and only when they manually did that, could their lives return to normal.
There’s not a single evil person - it’s everyone that needs to change and adapt and come to a new normal. And that’s a great commentary on life in general. Sometimes, there really is no one to blame, and it’s you, as well as the ones around you, that must come together in order to solve a problem, something that is not only a valuable life lesson for children, but for adults as well.
I could go on for hours about Encanto, but these are my top reasons. There's been talk about if The Mitchells vs the Machines or Encanto is going to win Best Animated Feature this year at the Oscars, but I think Encanto deserves that crown wholeheartedly. And if, for some reason, you haven't seen the movie yet, be sure to go watch it now.
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Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!