Disenchanted valiantly tries to recreate the magic of the first movie. It succeeds as often as it fails.
In fairy tales, princesses find their happily ever after and that’s that. In real life, however, Giselle discovers that a long, long journey lies after blissful marriage, few steps of which are blissful. In the attempt to rediscover happiness, Giselle convinces her family to move to suburban Monroeville, a change that ended up worsening instead of improving things. Deeply despaired, Giselle uses a wand of wishes to change the world around her. What the wand brings, however soon horrifies even her.
Are you a big fan of 2007’s Enchanted?
Well, I’m not but I did enjoy the movie back then. Like many, I appreciated the cheeky takes on the more ridiculous tropes of Western fairy tales. The music and dances were also wonderfully euphoric and of course, there was the way classic Disney 2D animation was partnered with live-action.
I thought the latter was very smart. Other than a stylish amalgamation and a tribute, the decision to use 2D felt like a sly statement on how simplistic classic fairy tales are.
Thanks to the above, I was full of cynicism when the trailer for the long-delayed sequel was finally released. Nope, you didn’t read wrongly. Neither did I mistype. Enjoyed the 2007 movie as I did, I’ve never hoped for a sequel because I don’t feel there is any more story left. As the Andalasians themselves put it, a girl’s story ends after she finds her happily ever after. Just how could a fairy tale sequel happen without the events of the first movie being reversed, or without the premise turning too dark or absurd?
To the credit of Disenchanted, what I fretted about didn’t much happen, at least not for the acting and story. The plot brilliantly incorporated more standard tropes of Western fairy tales to facilitate a continuation, and while at it, took a swing at the challenges of marital life. The original cast members who returned were also exemplary whenever given the opportunity.
Amy Adam, in particular, absolutely enthralls with her two versions of Giselle. I’m talking about instantaneous transformation here, accomplished without reliance on exaggerated movements or special effects. It might sound like an overstatement but I found these moments way more mesmerising than the climactic spell battle later. If only the story focused more on these transformations and not the need for a flashy showdown?
As for story flow, humour, and character development, well, I regret to say Disenchanted valiantly struggles but ultimately fails to recreate the storytelling mastery displayed in the first movie. The dialogue is frankly not funny. For most parts, the story meanders too, never quite completely making sense nor further exploring the darker desires of Giselle deliciously exposed by the wand of wishes.
In fact, had it not been for Alan Menken’s splendid soundtrack, I would have found the second half downright boring. The climactic spell battle, when it finally hit, was also rather flat? Completely lacking the sort of sorcerous energy in similar battles such the one between Glinda and Evanora in Oz the Great and Powerful, and with effects that are weirdly cheap-looking?
… … Come to think of it, Disenchanted is another of those unfortunate mixed bags. Like the first movie, it comes with a great premise, a superb soundtrack, and wonderful acting, but dialogue, effects, and wit are all lacking.
On the singing, Idina Menzel gets to belt one out in this sequel and her Love Power is one of the highlights of the show. For her fans, that soaring delivery might be worth the film’s various shortcomings.
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