The newest Princess to join the other 11 in the Disney Princess family is Moana, voiced by Auli’i Cravalho. She is the daughter of the chief of a small Polynesian village but she is always drawn more to the ocean than to her village. When the food sources begin to disappear, Moana must leave the village and find the Demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) to help her return the heart that Maui stole from Tafiti, in order to save her village. The journey is not an easy one, with monsters and lot of open water in between her and Tafiti.
I found the beginning of the film to be a little bit cliche, with the narration of a story from long before the time period that the rest of the movie will take place in. I feel like it’s not the most creative of ways to get the information across.
Another small issue I noticed was that sometimes the people looked slightly out of place in relation to how realistic the surrounding landscape looked; particularly the male characters. A lot of the men just had this Wreck-it-Ralph look to them with the huge upper bodies, square feet and hands, and flat finger tips.
The last thing of note is about how much trippy stuff happened throughout the film. The realm of monsters was particularly weird. It reminded me of the pit with all the monsters in The Spongebob Movie. Considering how realistic some parts of the movie were, there were a couple parts that are just obviously make believe.
I’ll start with the animation; it was absolutely stunning! The scenery looked ridiculously realistic and the detail on the characters’ faces was simply beautiful. Moana is straight-up gorgeous and Maui also looked really cool. The quality of the animation literally had me in awe during the scene in the early parts of the movie where little toddler Moana is meeting the ocean for the first time and the ocean seems to choose her. The water just looked so real! This was without a doubt the second highest quality of animation I have ever seen in a movie, behind only The Good Dinosaur. That being said, The Good Dinosaur isn’t nearly as good of an overall movie.
Moana had an outstanding mix of cute, funny, and suspenseful. It is truly a film for all ages of movie goer. It wasn’t the funniest Disney movie I’ve ever scene but it definitely makes you laugh from time to time. The music was great and I’m sure there are a couple original songs from that score that you will all be hearing a lot more of in the future. The previous Disney movie to come out was Pixar’s Finding Dory, which I found to lack the action or suspense necessary to keep the attention of the older audiences. That wasn’t an issue for Moana, which had plenty of action to keep anyone on the edge of there seat while also being light enough for younger audiences to enjoy it.
I think my favorite thing about this film is how they really break the mold of Disney Princesses in a way that they haven’t before. Sure, they have had strong female personalities in previous movies such as Mulan, Repunzel, and Merida. However, it just felt different this time. Moana is similar to Merida in the sense that she doesn’t particularly like the way her family and village does things. She wants to explore the waters outside of reef that her father constantly tells her to stay away from. Similar to Repunzel, she needs the help of a male character to get to where she needs to go. In contrast, instead of relying on Maui, she saves his skin a couple of times and then even helps him regain his confidence to be able to shape shift the way he used to. When, Maui leaves Moana to fend for herself after an encounter with the lava monster, she eventually decides to go back and try to return the Heart of Tafiti by herself. Of course Maui comes back (cliche), but Moana is still the one responsible for returning the heart and saving her village.
Moana is a charming, funny, and action packed movie that should go right up with the best of Disney’s famous princess films. After just one viewing, I am already confident that she is in my top 3 favorite Disney Princesses of all-time. Moral of the story, it is absolutely worth your time. Must see!