Let me start off this review by saying that I hope all of my readers enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday and that they managed to survive the perils of Black Friday shopping. On the day before the holiday weekend, I managed to secure a seat to spectate the final animated spectacle from Disney in the 2016 calendar year.
As the daughter of a chief, Moana was raised to become the leader of her tribe but her whole life, she has been drawn to the sea and the idea of life beyond her island and her village much to her father’s chagrin. When an ancient curse begins to manifest on her island, Moana’s grandmother has the solution for Moana to implement: find the fallen demigod Maui, take him to the fallen goddess Te Fiti and restore her by returning her heart, which Maui selfishly stole millennia ago.
Moana is brimming with beauty and light and it’s a thoroughly effective story about following your heart no matter what anyone says and it’s told in the traditional Disney way. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker have delivered yet another Disney milestone that will go down as a classic, in the company of their previous works such as Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Hercules and The Princess and the Frog.
I went into this film with high expectations considering the outstanding animated features of this year-Zootopia, Finding Dory and Kubo and the Two Strings-and Moana stands on equal footing with all of them, justifying my belief that 2016 is one of the best years for animated motion picture achievements.
Visually, you could not ask for better in a Disney animated feature as Moana is visually dazzling at all levels. Maui’s enchanted tattoos, Te Ka’s molten mayhem, the ocean coming to Moana’s aid, Tamatoa’s golden shell, you could pick Moana apart to find a gorgeous display of animated expertise and whatever you pick, would not be wrong; this is another prime example of Disney’s elite status as an animated motion picture power!
I thought this was beautifully written by Jared Bush and the creative team of storytellers including Clements, Musker, Chris Williams (co-director), Don Hall (co-director), Pamela Ribon, Aaron and Jordan Kamdell. Moana and Maui were beautifully developed characters and the story was shaped to evolve as they do in the most natural way possible and I must throw compliments upon the influence of Broadway superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda for his contributions to the soundtrack.
Technically, this is a very stout movie. The editing Jeff Draheim is as good as it gets and Marc Mancina’s score along with Miranda and Opetaia Foa’i’s songs will linger with audiences as Disney songs tend to do.
The vocal talents of Dwayne Johnson, newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger and Alan Tudyk fit their characters to a tee.
It is my distinct belief that Moana is a film for all ages, not just children because it has this power to capture your imagination and whisk audiences away to a tropical and enchanted realm with an intrepid heroine who follows what comes naturally to her and I think this is a beautiful movie with a beautiful message and Moana is a wholesome crowd-pleaser to boot!
Moana answered the ocean’s call and it will answer the call to audience’s satisfaction. This is a must see film.