Thursday, November 10, 2016

Disney's MOANA Review

Disney rarely disappoints when it comes to their animated features and Moana is set to be another hit. It is a fun, entertaining adventure movie with a kick ass heroine. The visuals are stunning. The music is wonderful and I dare say there will be a couple of songs you will soon be humming to.

Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) is the titular heroine. As the Chief's daughter of Motunui Island she constantly struggles with her duty of being her father's successor and her longing of sailing out into the ocean which she has a strong connection to since a very young age. Wanting to keep her safe, her father, Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison) has forbid her from venturing out into the ocean. When ill fortune begins to befall the island she musters up the courage to leave on a daring journey to safe her people. In order to do that she has to first find the demi-god, Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and convince him to join her on her mission.

I loved the movie! There's action, adventure, laughter and lots of beautiful music. You have an intriguing story which is based in Polynesian culture. The characters are likeable and relatable, and in some cases hilarious. Hei Hei, the rooster is an absolute hoot. And it fills the required role of animal sidekick for a princess. It is even mentioned in the movie! Just don't point it out to Moana. Lol! Seriously though she is more heroine than princess. And she can more than hold her own against a demi-god. Central to Moana's motivation to seek out Maui is her Gramma Tala (Rachel House) who has been telling her stories of legends since she was young. It is also Gramma Tala who encourages Moana to listen to her inner voice, one of the main themes of the movie.

The first third of the movie can feel a little slow. It is not until when Moana encounters Maui that things start to pick up. Maui, shape shifter, demi-god of the wind and sea, hero of man and so on too has a sidekick of his own. Kinda. In the form of "Little Maui" which is a tattoo of himself on his body. The two would often interact. Little Maui is able to move around on Maui's body. Seeing Little Maui move around is reminiscent of the moving pictorial images seen in Hercules. Maui naturally does not get along with Moana at first. But they will have to if each is to achieve their goal and overcome dangers such as a band of coconut pirates and the giant self-absorbed crab, Tamatoa (Jermaine Clement).

Disney has found a real gem in Auli'i Cravalho who I thought was was excellent in her breakout performance. She sounded natural and gives Moana that bit of spunk. She sings very well too. Dwayne Johnson was perfectly cast as Maui. His character is cocky, charismatic and full of himself. Sounds familiar? If ya smeeeeelllll what Maui is cooking! The Rock sings as well and I loved the "You're Welcome" montage. It introduces us to the character in a fun way.

The visuals are absolutely stunning and it seems that every opportunity was taken to remind you just how gorgeous it is. From the realistic movements of the glistening waters, the layers of hair and feathers being blown in the wind to the way the sun and moonlight lights and bounces off the surface. Gosh! This might be the most beautiful looking Disney movie ever! Equally as beautiful, if not more is the music. The original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Opetaia Tavita Foa'i will surely find their way into your playlist.

A short titled "Inner Workings" is screened before the movie. It is a fun short which sees the interaction between the various organs of the body. The main components are the brain and the heart who are in constant conflict with one another. Do we choose caution and conform to what is considered the norm or do we follow what the heart desires, in this case letting loose and have fun and excitement. It resonated with me strongly. And I imagine it will with many others too. You just want to chuck everything aside and go and have fun. There must be a balance I'll say. The short is a great lead in to Moana which deals with a similar theme of inner conflict.

Moana opens in theatres 24 November 2016. Be sure to catch it!

*All images courtesy of Disney SEA.


Singapore release date: 24 November 2016

Voice Cast: Auli‘i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Temuera Morrison, Rachel House, Nicole Scherzinger, Jemaine Clement, Alan Tudyk

Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker

Producer: Osnat Shurer

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