BREATHTAKING ANIMATION, STORYTELLING WITH WIT AND HEART, TALENTED VOICE ACTING, CATCHY SONGS, AND ONE AWESOME FEMALE LEAD!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: **** out of 4
Moana and Maui off on an adventure at sea in Disney’s Moana
A double win for Walt Disney Animation Studios, we had Zootopia earlier in March which was critically and commercially successful, the second highest grossing animated film of all-time (Guess what #1 is, no seriously just guess!), and now for the Thanksgiving weekend, we have Moana. The film is the 56th animated movie in Disney’s library as well as their second film to take place in Hawaii, the first being Lilo & Stitch in 2002 and the first CG animated film to be directed by the duo, John Musker and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog).
We could very much be in another Disney Renaissance after the massive success of films such as Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Zootopia. Like Frozen, Moana takes several Disney clichés and does new things with them, even a brilliant stereotype that a pretty girl wearing a dress and has a cute animal sidekick is a princess, and that’s only one out of many.
Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world embarked on a journey across the pacific, and discovered the islands of Oceania. Life was created by an island goddess called Te Fiti and the source of her magic is her heart, which is a pounamu stone.
After a demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson-Fast & Furious franchise, The Scorpion King, Race to Witch Mountain), who is a shape-shifter, stole her heart, the voyaging mysteriously stopped and caused the islands of Motunui have been cursed. A young girl and named Moana (voiced by newcomer, Auli’i Cravalho) and daughter of the chief of the Motunui island, discovers that she is literally friends with the ocean and wonders why the adventuring stop.
She learns that Maui has stolen the stone and if she can obtain it, Moana can summon Maui and help her save the village from destruction by the Gods. But she’s not alone on her journey, Maui with his mighty shape-shifting fish hook, a dim-witted chicken named Hei-Hei, and the ocean assist Moana on her quest to return the heart to Te Fiti before the Gods destroy her village.
Overall, Moana is a breathtaking animated feature for the entire family, the animation is gorgeous, the characters are very likable and poke fun at the typical Disney tropes, the humor is decent, and the songs are very catchy. I’m serious, I’ll gladly buy the soundtrack to this movie because the songs in this are just as good as Frozen’s, especially Cravalho’s song, How Far I’ll Go, it’s something I would put on my iTunes.
I also like how there’s no real villain in this movie, which at the same time is a little odd, even Frozen threw in a last-minute villain, though it made sense as the movie progressed. This one however, it’s just a misunderstood action that a hero character did that caused the problem, and not to mention how the climax is resolved is very refreshing for a Disney adventure film.
Moana is one of my new favorite Disney movies, just like Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Zootopia and so far, my pick for 2016, better than Finding Dory. It delivers everything I look for in a great film, memorable characters, impressive visuals, good storytelling, and so on, it’s something that leads to family fun guaranteed.
The Moana character I consider to be one of the best female movie characters of all time, she is far from being a damsel in distress, has an adventurous personality, can fight her own battles, and she doesn’t need a man to fall in love with. She is also one of my new favorite Disney Princesses (or heroines), Aurora should take some lessons from Moana so she can be a good character.
This is my Go-To family film for the holiday season, Trolls can wait, Moana is a priority, Disney magic on vacation in Hawaii, with beautiful visuals and fun characters. Even if some of the visuals look like an underwater Avatar, they’re in a movie where you really don’t care.
It’s an adventure at sea with Moana and Maui that is worth the ride.