By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is of one the most anticipated animation movies of last year alongside Zootropolis. Moana earned huge respect from all around the world for its deep narrative and leading lady.
Moana is another Disney classic off the conveyor belt and stars first-time Hawaiian actress Auli'i Cravalho and the big man himself; Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
We caught this animated feast on a lazy Sunday at the Phoenix Leicester…
Moana tells the story of a Polynesian island chief's adolescent daughter who's been raised to become the next leader of her people. Moana (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) has always had a special relationship with the ocean and now must voyage across the sea with a shape-shifting demigod named Maui (Dwayne Johnson) to rectify a curse on the islands he made 1000 years ago. Moana and the exiled Maui must return the Heart of Te Fiti to its rightful place as it grants the power of creation. Along the way, the pair must overcome obstacles including side-villains and personal struggles.
Moana is another triumphant effort from the Disney studios with focuses on strong female characters and zero- romance for the central protagonist. It’s an extremely refreshing film as there isn’t a ‘prince’ in sight. Teen Hawaiian singer Cravalho stars as Moana who isn’t like any other ‘Disney princess’. Moana is independent, strong-willed and the lack of a love interest is welcomed to watch her character blossom. Her destined future to be her peoples’ chief is unquestioned and again, a refreshing stance from Disney.
Disney have clearly put an emphasis on the characters in Moana as they are the driving part of the film. Normally, Disney films in the past have been narrative-driven with a moral to takeaway with you; don’t get me wrong, Moana has that, but the characters also shine through. Along with Moana, her grandma is also a strong woman who shows Moana her path to greatness. The Rock’s Maui already has the greatness and he too is a sturdy character. Johnson shares a refreshingly student-and-mentor-like chemistry with Moana and this is the heart of the film. The message I took away from this film is you can be and do whatever you want to, regardless of the obstacles. It’s a great takeaway for children.
The four or five songs in the movie are also top drawer. There isn’t a weak musical scene in Moana. The highlights are Maui’s self-glorifying “You’re Welcome” and “Shiny” sung by Jemaine Clement who plays a deadly crab with a passion for treasure. The feel-good music is very oceanic and a perfect fit for this cultured Disney movie.
Moana succeeds due to its empowering storyline that will not only strike a chord with kids, but it’ll make adults feel the warmth too. With tributes paid to Polynesian culture alongside inspiring messages and charming characters; Moana is the perfect family choice for all movie lovers.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
Moana screened at the Phoenix Leicester over the weekend of 14th/15th January 2017