The moment you have a recipe for success, never change it. Walt Disney understands this principle to the core, without a shadow of doubt. This year alone they’ve had two major animated box office smashes in Zootropolis and Finding Dory. Both have been critically acclaimed and both are among the highest grossing films of 2016, raking in a billion dollars apiece.
Disney never has to sweat over the perfect marketing charade to make audiences go see their latest film. They know we will. What is their principal for success you may ask? Put simply, it’s because they keep churning out lovable characters and placing them in magical worlds.
Moana attempts to reach the highs of the films mentioned above and make us fall in love with yet another Disney character. The film captures the story of a young strong-willed girl, Moana (excellently voiced by the first time actor Auli'i Cravalho), who loves the ocean and is the daughter of the chief of a Polynesian tribe.
At an early age we see the love the child has for the ocean. After being chosen by the thing she loves most, she is tasked with reuniting an ancient relic with a goddess. This particular scene unfolds beautifully. The musical score and directing is something so special it will probably make you melt.
As the film unfolds so do Moana’s conflicts. She has to choose between fulfilling her obligations as the daughter of a chief and chasing her own dreams. This schism within our little heroine, delivered to us through song and emotional beats (again well written and delivered), finally drive her to setting sail and taking on her calling.
Exposed to the harsh conditions outside her safe home, she finds it difficult to adapt. This leads us to meet another lovable character named Maui, a legendary shapeshifting demigod voiced by Dwayne Johnson. An ego the size of his muscles, gives him a false assumption that he is praised and loved across the region, only to find out that he’s actually despised and blamed for the problems within it. Which leads to him joining Moana in order to find redemption and regain what he’s lost. The camaraderie that ensues between them is fun to watch.
The two take on various trials that they face along the way to their destination. Besides cheering on the two as they gain much needed skills, we as the audience also connect with them on a personal level. Most especially the big Maui who gradually exposes his true emotional state stemming from a tear-jerking past.
The film’s only down point occurs when the duo enter a dungeon to retrieve an item. The scene drags on a tad bit longer than I found to be necessary although it’s barely noticeable because again, it’s done with a fun song! This film does contain a lot of catchy songs which you will definitely love and want to listen to over and over… and over again. I’m talking Let It Go levels here. And yes, there is a soundtrack available which you can purchase.
Beautiful coral blue oceans and soft green backdrops characterize Moana. That coupled with fun, magnetic characters and a wonderful soundtrack set up Moana to be another big animated hit. It is already receiving the critical praise and accolades it deserves. I definitely recommend you see it.
I give Moana 4.5/5 Stars.