Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Writers: Ron Clements , John Musker
Actors: Auli’i Cravelho, Dwayne Johnson
Genre: Comedy, Action and Adventure
Synopsis: Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new feature film “Moana” is about an adventurous teenager who, with help from demigod Maui, sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder and save her people.
Disney’s Moana is the latest in the long line of animated feature films to be released by the house of mouse. Following in the tradition of the Disney princess we find ourselves enjoying an adventure based deep in Hawaiian culture.
There are aspects of Disney’s Moana that were really strong and worked toward hitting the right marks. When I see a Disney princess movie, I know what I want. I want some predictability with a little bit of surprise and intrigue. Maybe an unexpected twist on the tried and true formula but the last thing I want to see is for someone to try and reinvent the wheel. Thankfully directors Ron Clements and John Musker are vets and have this process down to a science having shaped my childhood with movies like The Little Mermaid. So you can tell with some of the choices, style, and storytelling beats that Moana is the product of a well refined process.
I liked that it gave the impression that it was sensitive to Hawaiian culture. I don’t know much about Hawaiian culture so everything at least seemed thoughtful and refreshing. I felt like I was learning as much as I was being entertained which is a nice, appreciable, feat in an animated feature.
SPOILER ALERT: Disney’s Moana does not include a love story. Moana is a brave princess who is actually the leader of our adventure and doesn’t rely on that old trop continuing Disney’s efforts of featuring strong princesses, which is a great theme of female empowerment. Moana is groomed to LEAD from childhood without any requirement, let alone mention, for marriage. I love it!
I like the designs and Dwayne Johnson’s character Maui. Maui isn’t the dashing hero, nor should he be, He’s not uber attractive which helps deter implying an unintended romance with Maui and Moana (which would have been awkward to say the least).Also, The Rock can carry a tune! I only remember him singing one song but hearing him in a professional setting and actually SINGING is… Check it out for yourself:
Hei Hei was disappointing as the animal sidekick. There’s some misdirection with his introduction with a few folks in the theater hoping that Pua would have been the animal accompaniment and were also a bit disappointed that Disney chose the mute chicken instead. missed opportunity. The chicken was well designed and had potential to be a great sidekick but he was a mute. He had no funny lines or anything memorable about him other than him being a handicap in Moana and Maui’s adventure.
This movie does not have a clear central antagonist and the story suffers as a result. It’s just weird seeing this film without a central villain to anchor some of the story. Even though the characters have a clearly defined destination to make up the bulk of the film’s story it still feels a bit directionless at times. You don’t really know what will happen next but not in a good way. These issues pop up from time to time but are rationalized away later in the film. Things aren’t fleshed out until the end of the film but even that feels like an easy way to try to get me to disregard that the scenes feel disjointed since there’s a reason. Kinda, sorta. Disney’s Moana does contain an actual “villain” for our heroes to face but the villain fails to really stand out in this movie.
Disney’s Moana is a good movie. I enjoyed the characters, the wonders designs, the locales and more. I enjoyed the music, initially, but they seem to reuse a some songs a lot in this movie. Either that or too many songs sounds similar and I would have liked some more variety in the songs. I really enjoyed the humor found in this movie. The jokes are prevalent with some better than others but consistent throughout. The film felt a little boring at times. The random setup for putting the characters in certain scenarios made the film feel a bit disjointed at times but that’s overshadowed by how the characters interact and create great moments in the film once in these scenes. Overall I feel that there’s nothing inherently wrong with Disney’s Moana, but there isn’t a lot that’s remarkable either.