FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, I saw “Moana,” which is voiced by Auli’i Cravalho (Rise [TV series], Gone Fishing [Video Short]), Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas, Hercules ), Rachel House (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Eagle vs Shark), Temuera Morrison (Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones, Once Were Soldiers), Jermaine Clement (Gentlemen Broncos, What We Do in the Shadows), Nicole Scherzinger (The X-Factor [TV series]), and Alan Tudyk (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Frozen). It was directed by Ron Clements (Aladdin, Treasure Planet), Don Hall (The Emperor’s New Groove, Tarzan ), John Musker (The Princess and the Frog, The Little Mermaid), and Chris Williams (Big Hero 6, Bolt), who all also wrote it with Jared Bush (Zootopia, All of Us [TV series]), Pamela Ribon (Smurfs: The Lost Village, Samantha Who? [TV series]), and Aaron and Jordan Kandell (The Golden Record, Adrift). When an island princess’ home starts to wither away, she goes on an adventure to restore the heart of all islands; however, she must seek out the demi-god Maui (Johnson) in order to help her people.
Yet another original release from Disney, hot off the heels of “Zootopia” and “Big Hero 6.” It’s been a long time since the company of my childhood wowed me; I think “Wreck-It Ralph” was the last time I was truly in love with a Disney film. I didn’t expect much from “Moana.” When its trailer came out, I thought it was doomed to the same fate as “Frozen” (which I still don’t understand how so many people love that movie). However, I was proved wrong. “Moana” is the best Disney original film since “Wreck-It Ralph,” and there’s plenty of reasons why that is. Looking at the story, the writers dip their feet into ancient Polynesian roots. Heavy symbolism and tribal traditions are the undertone of this feature, involving both the characters and conflict. It takes over the plot, and in a good way. I’ve always enjoyed story structures such as these. Some films that I was reminded of while watching this were “Lilo and Stitch” and “Brother Bear,” all of which I loved growing up. Though I’m not familiar with the customs this movie presents, it creates a fun and refreshing aura that gives many layers to the plot. The wonderment and discovery Moana (Cravalho) went through in the picture is relatable as a viewer with this notion in mind. I felt for the characters in this; not on an incredibly deep level, but one that helps me root for them in their journey rather than just sit through an hour and a half long feature, waiting for it to end. There was a lot that went into this, from character development to the beautiful music. It follows the beats a lot of classic Disney movies do, though it’s not something to heavily ridicule “Moana” for. This takes what we love about Disney and holds to it, and I think that’s the best compliment to give this film. It has a steady flow and gives a satisfying conclusion that I’m sure will warm viewers’ hearts. Though it’s harmless, adults can surely have fun with this one; I’m almost nineteen years old and I had a great time. Breaking down its basic parts, the animation was terrific. I mean, did we expect any less? Disney is doing an astonishing job in their animation department, and are really testing the limits of what they can do. The setting, use of water, and colors blended nicely to create a gorgeous picture worth looking at; Pixar is going to have to work overtime to stay ahead of the animating competition. The voice acting was really good as well, with some wonderful work done by Dwayne Johnson, Jermaine Clement, and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho. All of them could sing well, and I enjoyed the songs that were made for this. Some of my favorites included “We Know the Way,” “How Far I’ll Go,” and “You’re Welcome.” Lin-Manuel Miranda did a fantastic job in crafting a theme for this music that flowed into the plot masterfully. Overall, this was a well-orchestrated animated feature that is great for all audiences. It was enjoyable to watch, as it’s story, background, and music were fun and interesting. Sure, it follows similar beats that Disney sticks to, and there can be a few dry spots, but in the end it was a satisfying film that I’m sure kids nowadays will be looking back on in the future. I’m happy to have seen it, and recommend it to everyone. FINAL SCORE: 90%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: