Disney Rides a Wave of Sucess with Moana
Despite 2016 being literally the worst year ever, Disney has come out of it smelling like roses. With hits like ‘Zootopia”, “Finding Dory,”, “Captain America:Civil War”, and “The Jungle Book” making millions and being met with rave reviews, Disney’s been doing nothing but winning. It’s like they sacrificed 2016 to Satan so all their movies would be great. Anyway, it looks like that deal paid off because their newest release “Moana” is a feels good hit. Inspired by Polynesian folklore, “Moana” tells the story of an ambitious young girl (played by 16 year old Hawaiian actress Auli’i Cravalho) who leaves the comfort of her home island and has to sail across a treacherous sea and save the world with the help of a boisterous demi-god trickster named Maui (played by Dwayne The Rock Johnson). This movie is very much Disney doing what it does best and I enjoyed every second of it.
“Moana” has tons of good stuff going for it. I greatly appreciated the quality and attention to detail that I’ve come to expect from Disney movies. You could say it has a whole SEA of great qualities. (Please stop me)
.The characters were instantly lovable. Moana is a strong willed, flawed protagonist that I rooted for the whole time and Auli’i Cravalho brings such life and enthusiasm to the character. Maui is a great foil for our idealistic protagonist, a stand-offish trickster mixed with Dwayne Johnson’s usual charm. The core of the movie is their journey to fulfilling their destinies and watching them reach it was a pleasure to watch.
.The soundtrack was absolutely amazing. With Samoan composer Opetaia Foa’i and Hamilton mastermind Lin Manuel Miranda on board, the soundtrack ranges from “How Far I’ll Go”, an inspiring anthem sung by Moana herself to “Shiny”, a whimsical Bowie-esque villain song which I’m not going to spoil and “We Know the Way” a song infused with Polynesian vocals. It’s infectious and takes cues from Hamilton’s successful storytelling through music.
.The animation is absolutely gorgeous. Like I said, the attention to detail is phenomenal in this. Every wave, strand of hair, and leaf is meticulously animated by Disney’s world class animators and their work should be greatly appreciated.
.Moana is Disney at its best. It takes the usual tropes and archetypes of a Disney movie and perfects them. From princesses leaving the comfort of their home to seek their destinies to musical numbers about defying the odds to live your life and animal sidekicks, this movie has all the familiar trappings.
.The respect and appreciation of Polynesian culture is greatly appreciated. Giving a spotlight to this culture adds much appreciated diversity to Disney’s stable. Again, the attention to detail and respect for the culture really shines. Side note: Shout out to the PR campaign for Moana for having Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson front and center, showing kids of Polynesian descent that they can be in movies too.
Even though Moana was an all around beautiful experience, it’s not without its flawless.
. Like I said earlier, Moana leans heavily on Disney tropes. Even though the movie makes them its own, it can feel very formulaic at times. It doesn’t reinvent the Disney wheel, but fixes it up and has it perform at its best. Again an overall great experience, but not necessarily anything new in terms of structure. It’s a mish mash of various Disney tropes that you’ll notice if you’ve grown up on the movies.
All in all I absolutely loved Moana. It deserves all the love and support it gets. I hope the audiences readily embrace it as they have other movies in the past.With an amazing soundtrack and a beautiful message of empowerment, this movie is an all around splash hit (Ok I’ll leave now)