In Ancient Polynesia, when an terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right.
It seems at this stage, to many including myself, that Disney can pretty much do no wrong. Sure there are some movies whose soundtrack doesn’t quite make it onto your “You can get through this” Monday morning commute playlist, but they’re still pretty good movies nonetheless. Whether the movies are through Disney, Pixar, Marvel or even Star Wars, they seem to be on a pretty hot streak with hit after hit, and Moana certainly continues that streak with no sign of waiving.
Moana utilises Disney’s true and tried movie magic formula, but executes it in such a way that it feels completely unique and fresh. Sure we have Moana not-a-princess-but-a-chieftain’s-daughter Waialiki, a plucky heroine on a journey of self-discovery, who meets fantastic allies, fearsome foes, and tremendous peril along the way. However the way the elements of this movie are wonderfully weaved and crafted together make it one of Disney’s best, and not only of this year.
There is so much to love about this movie that I will start with the performances, all of which were incredible and cast to perfection. Newcomer Auli’l Cravalho, the voice of Moana, has a triumphant start to her mainstream career and is a perfect fit for our Polynesian heroine. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Maui is also one of Disney’s best casting decisions made in a long time, and bring the Demi-god to life in so many different ways. The chemistry between the two leads is great and they bounce off of one another throughout the movie to great effect in regards to comedy, heart, emotions and triumph. Both leads bring so much life and relatability to their respective characters that every moment they were on screen was a complete joy. The support cast were also fantastic, with every one playing their part well and fleshing out this already stellar world.
One of my favourite aspects of this movie is how visually beautiful and stunning it is, from the characters, the ocean, to every blade of grass and every leaf on the trees, everything is completely breath taking and is one of Disney’s best looking movies. There are parts of the movie is how visually beautiful and stunning it is, from the characters, the ocean, to every blade of grass and every leaf on the trees, everything is completely breath taking and is one of Disney’s best looking movies. There are night sequences in this movie that are some of the prettiest visuals I have ever seen from an animated movie, that genuinely left me aw-inspired and full of emotion, very reminiscent to the Life of Pi. The way these visuals tie in with the story is incredible, and left me teared up on more than one occasion.
As always, this little Disney number comes with an explosive soundtrack that will have your toe-tapping and head-nodding all the way home. This movie contains some of my now favourite Disney songs, which immediately became part of my aforementioned commute playlist. The music is very diverse, ranging from emotional, inspiring pieces, to upbeat and smiling numbers. The music is perfectly written and composed to match each actors voice and talents, which is presented perfectly when the music starts.
When Johnson’s musical number (You’re Welcome) started, I was a little bit hesitant as to what I was about to hear, but it has turned into my favourite song from the entire movie, something to rival that of Frozen, sorry Elsa. That goes back to the notion that the music was written specifically for each actor, which plays to both their strengths and their weaknesses.
As always, this entry into the Disney filmography is filled with fun, laughs and humour, that is perfectly timed and fits with the theme and culture of the film. This is a kid friendly movie, not a kid’s movie, which means kids will love it but adults will love it just as much, with jokes aimed directly at the more mature audience that kids won’t even notice are going over their heads.
Moana is a visually beautiful, wonderfully acted and masterfully crafted piece of storytelling. It evokes emotions ranging the spectrum, from happiness, joy and laughter, to tears in your eyes and a sweet spot in your heart. It will leave you feeling inspired, with one of Disney’s catchiest soundtracks in your head the entire way more.
This is Disney at their best.
It may not have dethroned Hercules as the king of my Disney list, but it is certainly a close contender, which I will indulge myself in numerous times.
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