Review: Moana

Image Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Let me start by saying that the last thing I want to do is bash a kid’s film and I’m a big Dwayne Johnson fan, but Moana was seriously lacking in a lot of ways. The the storyline is predictable, the music is so so, some characters are extremely annoying and it misses the mark on celebrating the tribes in the south pacific in a meaningful way. It seems like these days that Disney owns everything. From Pixar to George Lucas Films and quite possibly Netflix in the near future. Even with all of that on their plate, they are continually cranking out animated films. Their last big hit was Frozen and to be honest I never watched it but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t tortured along with the rest of the world with “Let it Go” and Elsa costumes. I’m a huge animated film lover but Moana fell really short.
still_moanaIt’s clear that Disney has a formula. Princess longs to be free. Princess’s father wants to hold her back to keep her safe. Princess goes on adventure anyway and makes a traveling companion along the way. Princess and companion get into a fight at the worst possible time. Princess and companion make up to save the day. Princess goes back home to reap the benefits. Sound about right? We have watched Disney do this over and over again and the only thing that changes is what part of the world they chose to do it in. This time they chose the south pacific. Don’t get me wrong, as a strong feminist, I’m all for girl power. But for the love of the universe can we please break away from this predictable story line?

At this point you are probably thinking I am being to harsh, but Disney is known for their creativity, and cranking out film after film with the same formula is insulting to their viewers. I realize that this is a kid’s film but parents and adults have to take their kids to see it so I would think Disney would want them to be entertained too. The music is ok which is disappointing since it was composed by the great Lin Emanuel Miranda. There is also a lack of trying to really honor the tribes of the south pacific. Maui, played by Dwayne Johnson, is a careless god that looks out for himself after being stranded on an island for hundreds of years. The film does little to talk about the heritage and a few times Maui performs the Hakka war cry but it’s not as moving as you would like it to be. There is also an annoying chicken, who seems to be one of the main characters of the film. It made all the kids laugh but the character is so bad.
still_moana2For all that this film lacks, the animation makes up for lot of it. It’s beautiful. The night scenes on the ocean and the magical underwater scenes are to die for. Moana is fierce and beautiful and hard headed, Maui and his tattoos are fun to look at and everyone will want to kill that dumb chicken. The cameo by Jemaine Clement did put a smile on my face. Anytime I can hear him sing a hilarious song I take the opportunity. The lesson in Moana is to be kind to the earth because she is our provider and if children are able to grasp that concept then this film has done it’s job. The children will be entertained and the parents will be waiting for the 90 minute movie to be over. I would definitely wait for this to come out on DVD to see it.

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