‘Wish’ Proves Major Disney Disappointment, Reportedly Even Worse Than ‘Strange World’

in Disney

Asha (Ariana DeBose) stands amidst colorful butterflies in 'Wish'

Credit: Disney

Wish (2023) was supposed to be a box office savior for Disney – but its first reviews aren’t exactly glowing.

Disney is renowned for producing box office gold. However, its performance has slipped in recent years. What was once its most reliable money-making machine, Marvel Studios, has churned out not one but two box office bombs this year in the form of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) and The Marvels (2023).

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) stands next to Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani)
Credit: Marvel Studios

Its other efforts haven’t done much better. While the latest Pixar Animation, Elemental (2023), proved itself a surprising underdog after initially making a disappointing debut, other projects such as Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) have significantly underwhelmed.

Walt Disney Animation hasn’t produced a hit at the box office since Frozen II (2019). The pandemic is admittedly to blame for the lackluster performances of Encanto (2021) and Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), but last year’s Strange World (2022) bombed on massive proportions after critics dubbed it “unimaginative” and claimed that it contained “muddled themes and slight characters” that “bring Strange World down on the wrong side of familiar.”

Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) with dog Legend in 'Strange World,' often considered the worst film from Walt Disney Animation.
Credit: Disney

Despite this track record, audiences and critics alike had high hopes for this year’s entry from the studio. Wish (2023) – due to hit theaters on November 22 – has pushed itself as a tribute to the past century of Disney Animation. With a unique style that combines both computer animation with the aesthetic of Disney’s old watercolor animation, it’s directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn, and written by Jennifer Lee – AKA the team behind Disney’s mega-hit Frozen (2013).

The film reportedly focuses on Asha (Ariana DeBose), a resident of the Kingdom of Rosas who makes a wish upon a star to save her home from King Magnifico (Chris Pine), who gatekeeps his people’s wishes.

Asha from Disney's 'Wish' standing in front of a door
Credit: Disney

Its animation style has proved divisive with viewers ever since the film’s first trailer, with some claiming that it looks “unfinished.” However, now that reviews are finally emerging from critics online, it seems like that isn’t the only thing.

“It hardly breaks any ground — it’s simply there to celebrate the ground the studio was built on,” said John Nugent of Empire. “The jokes largely land a little flatly, to be appreciated by only the youngest audiences.”

Damon Wise of Deadline Hollywood wrote that, “Disney used to make this kind of film all the time, but now the studio seems a bit bamboozled as to how to do it in the modern age, which might explain why it lifts quite a lot from DreamWorks’ Shrek and takes its musical direction from The Greatest Showman, which means lots of tub-thumping numbers that sound like variations on a theme from a YA adaptation of Les Misérables.”

Asha (Ariana DeBose) kneels down next to her goat in 'Wish'
Credit: Disney

Wise added that “thankfully, it doesn’t outstay its welcome, but to cap 100 years with a few throwaway quips about BambiMary Poppins and Peter Pan (plus a whole roll call of more recent characters during the end credits) seems to be a hell of a disappointing way to capitalize on such a formidable back catalog.”

Meanwhile, Jenny Nulf of the Austin Chronicle said: “Wish is a disappointment. What could have been a beautiful celebration of Disney’s past ends up being one big poorly designed Easter egg hunt. The heart is in the right place, but the pieces never add up to something more.”

King Magnifico holds out his arms in the new Disney film 'Wish'
Credit: Disney

The general consensus seems to be that Wish is a largely forgettable affair from Disney. If the Rotten Tomatoes score is anything to go by, it’s even more forgettable than Strange World – the film that received the worst audience score in Disney Animation history. Wish currently sits at 58% on the site, making it “rotten,” while Strange World has a “fresh” score of 72%.

While ultimately the audience has the final say on how Wish performs, this doesn’t exactly bode well for the film’s performance – and proves Disney still has a long way to go if it wants to restore its creative reputation.

Are you excited to see Wish? Let us know in the comments!

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