Netflix has a new animated movie available to stream this weekend called Wish Dragon. Wish Dragon is a fun, family film that has strong positive messages to share with the viewers and some excellent animation.
Teenager Din (Jimmy Wong) has a plan. He wants to reunite with his childhood best friend Li Na (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) who is now a famous model/spokesperson for her father’s company. Before she left as a child, they had promised to be friends forever. It had been years since Din had seen her, but he hoped to crash her birthday party. As he was preparing his plan, he was given an emerald tea pot by a mysterious figure claiming to be a god. Din discovered that the tea pot contained an age old wish dragon named Long (John Cho), who was trying to get back to heaven by serving ten masters. Din gets three wishes, but he is unaware that another group is after the tea pot too.
So…. this is Aladdin, right?
There are a ton of similarities between Disney’s Aladdin and Wish Dragon, from Sony Pictures Animation. Three wishes. There are rules to the wishes (pretty close to the rules given to us by Genie). Din could easily be mistaken for a Chinese Aladdin, poor kid with the heart of gold, desiring what he cannot have. Li Na is the wealthy princess whose father is the top banana. Our villain is tall and thin, extremely menacing. Din lies to Li Na about who he is as he is pretending to be something he is not.
The differences are minor. Our dragon here has a pretty rotten attitude toward the world and his role as a wish dragon. The story is set in the present day so Long is amazed by all of the new world technology and items such as a bus or a car.
The thing is… what the film lacks in originality, it makes up for in heart. There is a nice relationship formed between Long and Din, and Long is the character who learns the transformational lesson of the movie. The relationship between Din and Li Na is wonderful and sweet. There is an interesting dynamic with Din and his mother (Constance Wu), as well as the rest of the extended family/friends.
The animation is beautiful. This is something that has to be these days. If you want to be successful, you cannot scrimp on the animation. It is just too good these days.
The whole family should be able to enjoy Wish Dragon. Sure, the story is very familiar in a lot of ways, but there is enough differences to make this worth the time.