Encanto ★★★★½

Overflowing with color, life, creativity, love, and humanity, "Encanto" was such a gigantic surprise that consistently dazzled and shone from start to finish!

It looks absolutely breathtaking. Everything is animated with such detail, it looks like you could reach out and practically touch the scenery. But what really put this over the edge as some of the best animation from Disney that I have seen in years is the use of color. Everything is so vibrant. The colors pop, burst, and explode in great expressions of emotion. And even the intentionally colorless sequences still feel so full of detail. I haven't seen anything like it in so long. It's impressive beyond words.

The music, of course, slaps so hard. When it's from Lin-Manuel Miranda, that's pretty much a guarantee. I don't think there was a single song that didn't work or felt out of place. I'll be listening to this soundtrack for weeks! A major standout as one of my favorite songs was "We Don't Talk About Bruno".

The musical numbers themselves compliment the music so well. They contain so much energy that's unimaginably palpable due to the amazing editing and blocking of the sequences. The detailed and vibrant animation, the banging music, and the imaginative direction of the numbers all coalesce to make something that feels so unique and artistically honest.

I love its message, as well; Individuality, family connection, living in the moment with those you love. I love that there really isn't a villain. All of the emotional and narrative conflict takes place within the family. So, everything rides and dies on how well the chemistry works between them all. That's so cool to me. It's refreshing. And, thankfully, it pays off. So much care is given to make sure that everything going on in the family works on a story level. Since every conflict between the family is well-developed and set up, the conclusion feels so earned and a natural extension of everything that came before it.

Mirabel is an instantly likable protagonist that is extremely empathetic and relatable because her personal struggle is communicated so well through both visuals and dialogue between characters that feels organically interwoven. Her relationship with the rest of the family is also communicated in this way, and just as effectively.

All of the members of the family are so unique from one another and so memorable as a result. One of my favorite members of the family was Luisa who is super strong physically, but very emotionally vulnerable in contrast. Smart character choices like that are so small but really make all the difference in the end.

I wasn't really wowed by the trailers for "Encanto". It looked light and fun, but not anything that I would really remember after I saw it, but I am so happy to admit that my initial impressions from the trailers were dead wrong. Everything about it just feels so alive, which is very fitting considering what the film is about.

It's so in love with its world, its people, its problems, its emotional well-being to such an endearing degree. It brought me back to when Disney used to put out hit after hit. When they were a pioneer of innovative storytelling in the world of animation that cared so deeply for stories about human connection and empathy made by people who have a burning passion for the stories they want to tell.

I love this so much, and I really hope that you all give it a shot. It's something really special with such a kind and understanding heart that I am extremely happy exists.

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