“Encanto”, a spoiler-rich Movie Review, Trailer and Cast | Entertainment

"Encanto", a spoiler-rich Movie Review, Trailer and Cast | Entertainment

Movie Review, Trailer and Cast of “Encanto”, a spoiler-rich

I had very low hopes going into this movie, as most of Disney’s recent movies were generic sequels to cash-cropping movies like “Frozen.”  I was completely wrong.

On first viewing, I was initially confused.  It was a bit difficult to follow.  I asked myself “What was the conflict?”  Asking simple questions like found.  or “Was it even resolved?”.  Generally, it’s not a very good sign when your film, especially a children’s film, leaves audiences incredibly confused.  It was only after watching the film again that I realized what an animated masterpiece this film is.

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The film is about a family named the Madrigals, who live in a magical village in a deserted part of Colombia.  The spell was first created after the family’s patriarch, Abuela, when their children were young, lost her husband while on the run from their home.  His family and the inhabitants of the village are protected from outside by a spell called “Encanto”, which takes the form of an everlasting candle.  It also builds a sensitive home, called a “casita”, in which the madrigals live.  Each biological member of the family received a unique power from the Encanto upon coming of age in a special ceremony.  All of them except Mirabel, the film’s protagonist.  She loves her family, but can’t seem to find herself insecure compared to the rest of the forces in her family.

Mirabelle is only 15 years old, and the second youngest in the family.  Her youngest cousin, Antonio, is coming of age, and the family is in great tension as Mirabelle’s ceremony ends in failure.

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Antonio’s ceremony goes well as he receives his gift without issue.  The family is overjoyed, and despite Mirabel’s attempts to deny it, it only makes her feel worse and more worthless to the family.  Living alone in her house, she sees only cracks and magic in the house.  She warns Abuela and the rest of the family, but when they come to see the cracks, they leave.  Abuela doesn’t believe him, and Mirabel feels even more ominous.

She sustains a cut on her hand from a crack in the house and believes that something is wrong with the magic.  She resolves to save it and make her family proud.  He learns that his super-strong older sister, Luisa, was struggling to pick things up when the cracks were reported.  Luisa reveals that her estranged, fortune-telling uncle, Bruno, had a vision of it before it disappeared years earlier.

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Mirabelle sneaks into Bruno’s now abandoned room, and finds her vision at the center of Encanto’s crevices.  Abuela finds her but has no idea what she is doing as Luisa’s struggle worsens.  Abuela is currently trying to arrange a marriage between a man in town and Mirabel’s other sister, Isabella, with whom she has a very frightening relationship.  Isabella seems perfect growing hundreds of flowers for the people around her.

The rest of the family and the village warn Mirabelle about how Bruno and his visions often lead to misery and chaos for those involved.  He is unable to fully comprehend the vision that Abuela had set up before the whole family is called to an engagement dinner for Isabella.

Despite Mirabel’s efforts to discover Bruno’s vision and keep her part in it under wraps, the vision is revealed to the rest of the family, including Abuela.  The dinner is an absolute disaster, and Mirabel declares her innocence as an enraged Abuela confirms to the troubled townspeople that all is well with Encanto.

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Mirabelle then finds Bruno himself, who was still living in the house, secretly.  He tells how he disappeared because he knew, given his reputation, that his visions of Mirabel would be as outcast as him.  He explains that he never really left because he still loves his family, despite what they think of him.  They are also detected in the form of manually repairing cracks in the casita.  He explains that when he had vision, it was all out of order, and it was not set in stone.  He couldn’t tell whether she was causing the cracks or saving them.

Although initially reluctant, Mirabelle, with the help of Antonio, is able to persuade Bruno to have another vision.  He does so, where he sees that Mirabelle must make amends with her sister Isabella.  She is initially too proud to do so, but Bruno convinces her to reconcile before hiding.

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She confronts Isabella, who is initially furious at Mirabelle for ruining her engagement, before Mirabelle helps her confess that she never wanted it in the first place.  Isabella realizes how much she hates being perfect and reconciles with Mirabelle.  The cracks in the casita are seen repairing themselves before the eyes of the sisters.

Everything seems fine until Abuela returns.  She is furious at Mirabel for ruining Isabella’s engagement and angrily pursues her.  Mirabel then defends herself and Bruno, who accuses Abuela of not caring about the family.  Cracks reappear and get worse.  Abuela yells at Mirabel, blaming her for the disappearance of the magic.  Mirabel, with tears in her eyes, finally pounces on Abuela, telling her that she is not good enough for him or anyone else in the family.  As the cracks get worse, and the earth trembles, Mirabel says that Abuela doesn’t care about the family at all.

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As soon as their house starts falling apart, the land and the village starts falling apart and falling apart.  As the house is crumbling, the family loses its gifts, before the entire family is evicted by Cassita.  Mirabelle tries her best to save the magic candle from Abuela’s room as she sees Bruno running as well.  She manages to grab the candle in time before the whole house starts to fall on her.  Cassita manages to save him as the whole house is torn apart.  When the dust settles, the candle is extinguished, and the casita is no more.

Mirabelle is fine, but the entire family is in shock at the loss of their home.  Mirabelle runs away, and everyone starts looking for her, to no avail.  Abuela eventually finds her in the river, where her husband was murdered and the miracle was later born.

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Abuela has a flashback of her life, from the time her children were born when violence forced her to run away from her home.  Her husband was killed while protecting her.  Abuela is shown falling into grief, and that grief gave rise to a miracle.  Abuela admitted that her desire not to lose her home again made her seek perfection from everyone in her family, and she began to value her abilities more than herself.

She accepts that the family magic has been ruined because of her, and she sees how the miracle is the family itself, not their gifts.  She apologizes to Mirabel, and they hug and reconcile.  Accompanied by Bruno, they return to the rubble of the house, and the whole family is reunited.

In the final musical number, the entire village comes to help the Madrigals manually rebuild their home.  With their newfound appreciation for each other and hard work, the house is rebuilt.  The last piece, a doorknob, is added by Mirabelle, with her family encouraging her.  After the last addition, the magic returns.  Cassita comes back to life, and as the film ends, the family regains their powers.

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I found the plot of the film to be very nuanced and subversive, although it turned out to be confusing upon first viewing.  It highlights great aspects of family drama and conflict, in addition to issues of self-worth and perfectionism.

There were many moments that hit you straight to the heart with their messages and themes.  The scene of the house collapse is incredibly intense and hard to watch, it all ends in a tragedy that is hard on both the family and the audience.  It reminded me a lot of Mufasa’s death scene in “The Lion King”.  When you watch “The Lion King” for the first time, and assuming you’re not spoiled, you never expect Mufasa to die in such a dramatic and heartbreaking way.  Both Mufasa’s death and Cassita’s fall are very emotional and heart-wrenching.  This is one of those instances where the film fails its audience’s expectations, and it completely turned me off.  It’s obviously not quite as emotionally traumatic as Mufasa’s death, but the whole ordeal is appropriately impressive for those involved.

The plot of Mirabelle’s runaway was clear enough to watch for a while, yet it still felt nuanced, properly constructed and executed.  Even the way to find her, that being a little yarn found by Abuela, was hinted at at the beginning of the film.  Mirabelle sews her own clothes, and she is seen leaving a rope hanging at the very beginning of the first song.

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I think restoring his powers at the end defeats the purpose of the story, especially when many of his gifts become a burden on the family.  That being said, with the wisdom and lessons learned by the family throughout the film, you know they will be better off with their powers now.

The Madrigal family is full of lively and funny characters.  With so many family members, and the runtime type of an animated film, some family members were portrayed less than others.  It was a shame, because I found many characters amusing and relatable.  The only family member that came off as a distant cliché to me was Isabella, whose plot elements not being perfect and having an arranged marriage are pretty common tropes at this point that Disney has used many times before.

The film doesn’t waste any of its time or animation, and the background often features funny details and moments that help turn the family and village into real characters.

Mirabelle was a very quirky and funny hero.  Because of her struggles for self-worth surrounded by many incredibly talented characters, she was extremely relatable to me.  Stephanie Beatriz really nailed the role and everything that came with it.

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One of the best characters in the film is Bruno.  Growing up, I always envied John Leguizamo as the voice of Sid the sloth from “Ice Age,” but he really brings in a sense of eccentricity and weirdness that was both fun and relatable to watch.  Bruno is slandered for his gift by the village and his own family through abuse and bad judgment.  He leaves everything behind to save his niece from the unfair treatment he had spent his entire life with.  Despite what everyone else thinks of him and how he treats him, he can’t help but still loves his family, so he still lives there in secret.  He brings a lot of humor to the role, both misunderstood and it’s lovely to see how he interacts with Mirabelle.  While his screen time is limited, Leguizamo makes it count, and it doesn’t hurt a character either when the film’s catchiest song is about him, though we’ll get to that later.  It comes as no surprise to me that this character has already become a meme, and I mean that in a good way.

This film is different in that there is no obvious villain in the story.  Abuela is certainly the antagonist in the plot, but he is far from a bad person.  What she says and does for her family has no meaning in her.  The only scene where she actually acts malicious, though in a moment of rage, is when she snaps at Mirabel.  Other than Mirabel and Bruno, she has no apparent influence that is negatively affecting her family and their gifts.  At least when I first saw the film.  You can understand the negative impact of his desire for perfection on the whole family when you watch it a second time.  Her interactions with many family members have an aura of great control over them, and she expects too much from anyone and everyone.  This has caused a lot of negative feelings in the family, and it is very prevalent in Isabella and Luisa’s songs.

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Much of this only became apparent through a second monitoring.  Perhaps an animated film directed primarily at children shouldn’t have enough depth and subtlety to warrant a second watch to understand its themes, but I think it’s a whole lot better because of that.

Talking about the songs, the music of this film is excellent.  The lyrics were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the lyrics for both “Moana” and “Hamilton”.  In my opinion, Miranda has cemented her contribution to the musical theater industry as the Shakespeare of long writing music.

This movie is so beautifully animated that it sounds crazy.  Isabella’s powers to spread flowers lead to beautiful animation every time she appears, which also helps enforce her idealized personality.  I love the sand and dust details on Mirabelle at various points in the movie.  The character designs are unique and visually different, and all the clothing looks vibrant and colorful.  The animation of Madrigal’s powers, especially Bruno’s vision, was stunning and clean.  From the animation point of view, this film is nothing short of thrilling to the eyes.

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“Encanto,” the kind of family it portrays, is nothing short of a magical experience: charming, melodious, heartwarming, and a musical masterpiece from start to finish.

Source: Nathan Turoff, Spinnaker, Direct News 99

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