Moana Review

“Moana” is the newest animated film from Walt Disney Studios.  “Moana” tells the story of a young Hawaiian girl in the title role.  Moana sets sail to save her island before encountering the demi-god Maui.  Moana and Maui must embark on a perilous journey of self-discovery in order to find the courage in themselves to save the native people of Hawaii.  “Moana” is a film that deals heavily in mythology, and is set perfectly to music by Hamilton’s own Lin-Manuel Miranda in one of the best Disney soundtracks in recent memory.  “Moana” is beautifully animated with an amazing story and music that will make your heart soar in true Disney fashion.

“Moana” was a movie that was on my radar from the beginning of the year.  But after the success of “Zootopia,” “Finding Dory” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” I was finding it hard to believe that “Moana” would live up to these films.  Boy was I wrong.  “Moana,” next to “Kubo and the Two Strings,” is the best animated feature this year.  And while I think “Kubo” is a slightly better film, “Moana” is more fun.  Both “Moana” and “Kubo” are full of spirit, sadness and are all about the Hero’s Journey that we see from mythologist Joseph Campbell.  Where “Moana” really shined though was in the relationship between Moana and Maui voiced by Dwayne The Rock Johnson.  “Moana” is fun, whimsical and action packed with some of the best visuals of the year.

This entire film worked wonders for Disney.  I think the mythology, the music and the characters really made this film to be one of the best movies that I have seen this year.  This is a modern day Disney musical that doesn’t put emphasis on the princess fairy tale story.  This is not a fairy tale princess story.  Moana as a character is incredibly strong, independent and holds her own.  She isn’t sexualized in any way and there is no emphasis on the classic “damsel in distress.”  Moana is truly the hero of her own adventure and that’s what I loved about this movie.  It is very much a feministic approach to the ages old Disney stereotypes of how we look at these Disney princesses.  Three things stick out that make this film work.  One, the voice acting.  The Rock was so funny as the demi-god Maui and Moana, voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho was a wonder to behold.  They had amazing chemistry and made for a lot of heart and humor.  The second thing was the animation itself.  A lot of the animation looked photo realistic and I was just amazed at how pristine everything looked on-screen.  And the last thing was the music.  Lin-Manuel Miranda is the superstar here.  He has crafted one of the best Disney soundtracks in recent memory with a whole slew of amazing musical numbers that are fun, majestic and adventurous.  I have no doubt this soundtrack will become a classic one day because the music is that good.

When looking at the negatives, to be honest I found nothing negative about this film which is very rare for a Disney film.  I found everything in this to be just perfect, at least for me.  But if I really had to nitpick, I will say that the plot is fairly predictable.  There wasn’t anything in here that was a surprise but even still none of that bothered me.  Sure the movie is predictable and contains a lot of Disney tropes from previous films but what do you expect, it’s Disney.  To me this was a perfect film that I feel people will find very little to criticize.

“Moana” is not only Disney’s best film this year, but it’s one of the Best films this year.  I was completely surprised with how much I enjoyed “Moana” and I cannot wait to see it again.  This is the perfect family movie this holiday season and is absolutely great for both kids and adults.  The animation was flawless and the voice acting was spot on.  The story is invigorating for an older audience and the music will let your hearts soar.  “Moana” will go down to be a classic and is another amazing addition to their pantheon of classics.

Grade:  A+

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