Directors: John Musker and Ron Clements
Writers: Jared Bush, Ron Clements, John Musker, Pamela Ribon and Taika Waititi
Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Tudyk and Phillipa Soo
Release Date: November 23, 2016
Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes
Rating: Rated PG for “peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements”
Plot Summary: “A young woman, accompanied by a demi-god, sets off on a magical journey to a fabled island.”
The only films set in the Hawaiian culture that I am aware of are the “Lilo and Stitch” franchise (2002-2015) and “Aloha” (2015), so when Disney released previews for “Moana” (2016), I knew right away that it was going to be special because it is set in Hawaii. However, I had no idea that the other aspects of “Moana” would end up being this good!
Although “Moana” does borrow some themes (fate, destiny, listening to the past and “finding yourself”) from Pixar’s “Brave” (2012), I still found it to be incredibly creative. One of the aspects of “Moana” that makes it so amazing is it’s beautiful animation; that is really the only word I can think of to describe it because I am still blown away by how beautifully animated “Moana” is. It is a colorful and alluring film that presents audiences with stunning visuals that everyone will be amazed by. As much as I loved the two previous Disney films released this year, I have to admit that the animation in this film tops both “Zootopia” (2016) and “Finding Dory” (2016).
I also really enjoyed the voice acting of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho who use their energies, emotions and spirits to make 3D animated characters seem relatable, likeable, brave, intelligent and hilarious. The characters of Moana and Maui are two of the best characters Disney has ever created and I can not fathom someone watching this movie and not loving both of them.
The final aspect of this film that I adored was something that my parents, surprisingly, found to be the worst part of the movie; the music/soundtrack. My parents believed that the music in “Moana” felt “white-washed” because it did not feature many Hawaiian beats, rhythms, instruments or lyrics. This is definitely true because there are only a handful of songs that possess qualities of authentic Hawaiian music while is Disney’s classic, modern soundtrack style. Some people may feel confused by the lack of Hawaiian culture in the music but I did not have this complaint because the presence of the Hawaiian culture in the movie alone is so strong that it does not need Hawaiian music to back it. Plus, the music flows through audiences by touching their hearts and emotions; the last Disney movie that did this to audiences was “Frozen” (2013), so I was not willing to debate or question it’s lack of Hawaiian culture. “Moana”’s soundtrack is so touching and incredible that I guarantee people who see this movie will want to go out and purchase/stream the soundtrack.
I am going to give “Moana” an “A+” for its overall beauty. It is so hard for me to describe the beauty of “Moana” because it is something I believe everyone needs to go out and experience for themselves. So, what are you waiting for?! Go buy a ticket to “Moana” and spread the love for it because I guarantee anyone who sees this movie will adore it.