First Published with Starskify – 13th December 2016
Moana is the daughter of the chief of her tribe, and next in line for the title. The sea is her true calling. Ever since she was a small child, she has been drawn to the great blue. Her grandmother teaches her the ancient truths of her ancestors and their travels across the ocean. Against the wishes of her father, Moana strives to follow their footsteps.She sets on a vast adventure to find the mighty demigod Maui, thus righting the wrongs he made against the island Goddess Te Fiti.
A magical animation, brining the true spirit of Disney to life once more. Moana brings together a captivating story, gorgeous visuals and engaging characters to present a thoroughly enjoyable journey of young ambition. The songs are catchy, exciting and primed for the same attention that the icy Disney predecessor gained back in 2013. There is humour, dramatic plot developments, and charming interactions between characters. What more could you want in a Disney movie?
We are introduced to a positively determined protagonist, she sticks to her true calling throughout. Her relationship with her Grandmother is such a touching and heartwarming sight, proving that Disney never fail to get emotions high in their features. The beautiful symbolic appearance of the ghostly manta ray deepens their bond brilliantly. There’s an underlying theme of culture and myths, which are incorporated incredibly smoothly. The combination of classic Disney and alternative civilisation is brilliantly perceived.
A Different Kind of Princess
One element that I adore when considering Moana is the distinct lack of romantic interest for the 16-year-old character. She’s unlike other Disney princesses, which is such a refreshing sight to see. Voiced by young newcomer, Auli’i Cravalho. She’s a Polynesian girl, destined to be the next chief of her tribe. Not just another caucasian heroine. There’s no knight or prince in sight either. Instead, we’re graced with a resistant demigod, obsessed with himself to aid her during her journey. It’s a brilliant friendship that is formed between the two. Following a classic hostility during their first meeting, they come to an agreement and travel the seas together.
Maui himself is a brilliant addition to Moana’s adventure, wonderfully voiced by Dwayne Johnson himself. His rendition of You’re Welcome stands out excellently. The tattoos scattered all across his body come to life, bringing more quirky additions to his character. In fact, they act like a character all of their own. At times, the former shapeshifter acts as a mentor to the teenager, teaching her the ways of the sea. This form then alters later on, with feisty Moana then taking control of the situation and encouraging the demigod to finish what he started.
Friends With the Ocean
Maui’s tattoos aren’t the only characterised matter evident in the film either. Moana shares a close connection with the sea from the off start. Even when as a small child, the protagonist was drawn to the deep blue. Despite the stern words from her father – conducted through the means of song – she still establishes her yearn to go out to sea. There is a mystical bond shared between Moana and the sea, which supports her adventure throughout. From the capabilities of returning her to the boat, to providing an epic path during the concluding scenes.
Can we just mention the pig for one moment.. Moana’s little pink nosed companion Pua may not have had much screen time but it may just be one the most adorable parts of the first half of the movie. Secretly I was hoping the puppy-like animal would appear on the journey too, alas it was just not meant to be. Disney heroes can’t go without an animal companion of some sort. Moana is assisted by a dumb chicken, completely unaware of his surroundings. He’s the village idiot sort, providing humour even in times of peril. The addition may not provide useful support like other Disney heroine companions, but that may be why he’s such an enjoyable sight.
It’s a delightful, coming of age story. A tale of an inspiring young girl and her quest to become a master way finder of the Pacific. The pairing of Moana and Maui bring forth entertainment and fun in vast quantities. A well put together feature, that cruises through an epic journey of self-discovery and unexpected friendship.