“If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”
Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement, Rachel House
Synopsis: Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), heiress to the dying island of Motunui, ventures out into the ocean to find the once-great demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), and with him restore the heart of goddess Te Fiti which he once stole, in turn bringing life back to the lands that have been suffering at the hands of his actions.
So it’s been a productive few months for Walt Disney Animation Studios. Thanks to a midpoint mini-lull, Moana doesn’t quite reach the perfection of their previous effort for 2016, Zootopia, but it’s not far off it by any means. It’s been a while since they’ve been able to brag two such great films in the same year – if ever, in fact. Of the 56 features from the studio, dating back to 1937, only a handful have released in the same year, and you’re looking as far back as the Pinocchio/ Fantasia combo of 1940 for one as potent as this.
Sat atop the list of its selling points is the beautiful animation, with near-photorealistic water, vibrant colours, and stunning, fantastical beasts brought to life. To say it’s eye-catching would be an understatement. The visuals dance to the beat of Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s aggressively likeable music, a soundtrack second only to Sing Street’s in 2016.
Throw in the ridiculously charming Dwayne Johnson as a larger than life demigod, a desperately dumb chicken, and a non-traditional Disney “princess”, and you’re onto a winner. Moana is no damsel in distress. She ventures out to save her home on her own, and she succeeds (largely) on her own. She’s a modern heroine for modern times, and she’s deserving of much more adoration than Frozen’s Anna and Elsa.
Rating (out of 5):