Encanto is the latest animated Disney film that impresses with its uncanny, beautiful visuals, along with its memorable music cues, and teaches the masses more about the greatness of Colombian culture. While doing this though, it strays into its formula Disney story tropes and does nothing different in that regard. Other than that, this is a wonderful film, fun for the whole family. The 4K picture with HDR enhancement looks amazing and the Dolby Atmos track could be better with a greater low end. The special features though are incredible. Recommended!
Jared Bush and Byron Howard (directors of Zooptopia and creators of numerous other Disney animated films) have come together for Encanto to tell the tale of the Madrigal family. As the film opens, like most Disney movies, someone passes away. In this case, it is the husband of Abuela Alma Madrigal (Maraia Cecilia Botero), the matriarch of the Madrigal family. After a violent raid, Alma's husband is killed just after she gives birth to triplets. Somehow though, in a Harry Potter-type fashion, a magical candle saved her life and created a Wakanda type of shield over her village and home. Not only that, this candle has given each of her family members superpowers ranging from strength to super-hearing to the ability to talk to animals.
With the help of the community and her family, no harm will come to them. However, her daughter Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) has not received the magical gift of a superpower yet and realizes that the magic candle is flickering out and the protective shield is cracking. As Mirabel sets out to protect her family she uncovers some secrets of the past and her family member Bruno, who nobody speaks of. At the end of the day, Mirabel will be the key to either saving or destroying her own family.
Disney certainly has a formula for animated movies that are tried and true. Rarely does the studio giant deviate from its projected path with the exception of different characters and music, but the story always remains the same for most cases. With their most recent animated feature Encanto, the story resembles everything that's come before it in the Disney catalog but features a wonderful and original cast of characters and enough magic to bring this story and family to life. Encanto impresses with its visuals, songs, and voice work, despite its rote storyline.
Disney has jumped into the Colombian realm with Encanto, something they really haven't done before as the film examines the fantastic elements of Colombian culture, traditions, and people. The wonderful original song cues emote those excellent sounds of South America at every needle drop and give way to some exquisite new ideas and tunes that are not just makeshift pop tunes in the top 40 chart. Navigating a wide array of characters in this family could be tiresome, but the filmmakers do a good job in letting everyone have their own personality quirks and time to shine to make a fluid and smooth movie.
Visuals are absolutely stunning in this Disney movie as the studio continues to impress on the animated front. The attention to detail in the Colombian culture is outstanding and will no doubt teach younger ones about this fantastic way of life. The voice work is amazing, including John Leguizamo as Bruno, who is always a lot of fun and brings his best efforts here. Lin Manuel-Miranda's help with the story brings intrigue and music to it as well. Even though this film plays out and borrows some elements from previous films both in and out of the Disney universe, there's a lot to love about it. Encanto is a treat despite the same old storyline Disney cooks up every year.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Encanto performs its way to a two-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital release from Disney. The discs are housed in a hard, black plastic two-disc case with an identical cardboard slipcover. The artwork features the glorious visuals of the animated cast and their home. There is an insert for the digital code as well to Movies Anywhere, along with some more Disney promotions.
Encanto conjures up and fantastic 2160p UHD 4K transfer with HDR in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 that looks excellent.
The color palette is simply amazing from start to finish. Primary colors are bright, bold, and rich on all levels. The many shades of green in the pastures and grass coincide with the magical elements of purples, pinks, and other blues and reds. It's a rainbow of colors that's never too stand-offish but is the perfect balance of elegant colors that are true to South America. The HDR enhancement really helps define the more nuanced colors in the village, the clothing, and the skin tones. Black levels are very deep and inky as well which gives way to fantastic nighttime scenes.
The animation is smooth with some great detail. Textures in the faces, clothing, and on the house and village all look wonderful. The added 4K picture allows these details to breathe in the darker sequences along with the more action-packed scenes, never pixelating or seeming blurry. White lines and animation are always fantastic. There are never any complications with banding, aliasing, or video noise either. This is one picturesque, beautiful-looking image.
This release features a Dolby Atmos track that comes to life in a lot of ways. There's no need to adjust the volume higher on this track like previous Disney releases. Sound effects are robust and lively, bringing elements of magic, fantasy, and real-life sounds to the foreground. Each noise has wonderful directionality and is dynamic when in big action beats. Ambient noises of the magical powers, along with the nature sounds in the village are outstanding as well.
Height speakers don't come through often with sound, but when they do, it's always a treat. The big complaint here is the low end. It's just not as much bass as there should be. When chaotic scenes are in motion or the musical cues are hitting, the bass only lightly appears and never gives that full-on range of sound that one wants from a Disney musical. Dialogue is clean and clear and free of any audio problems.
There's a whopping 152 minutes of bonus material here, involving some great info on the Colombian culture, their research, and the production of the film. These were a lot of fun to watch. All extras are located ONLY on the Blu-ray Disc.
Encanto is a fun, wonderfully made, visually stunning, and musically lifting Disney film. The attention on the Colombian culture is fantastic and its characters are memorable, despite the same old story being told that everyone's seen time and time again in Disney films. The 4K image with HDR is fantastic and the Dolby Atmos track sounds good, but not great. There are some truly exquisite bonus features here as well. Recommended!