Rama is here again with another review.
If there’s such a crime for being too Disney, MOANA would be guilty of it. Now, before you attack me with torches and pitchforks, let me say that I enjoy this film, but in the traditional Disney animation sense, it really doesn’t get more generic or more formulaic than MOANA.
Directed by the team who gave us “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Hercules,” and “The Princess And The Frog,” Ron Clements and John Musker this time take us to the islands of oceania, across the vast pacific where a teenager named Moana, wonderfully voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, dreams of voyaging across the open sea, just like her people’s ancestors did. Her father however, the head chief, doesn’t want that for his daughter, he wants her safe. But under the guidance of her late grandmother, Moana decides to venture off in order to find the demigod Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, who years ago stole a certain object that would restore Moana’s island that’s being threatened by a curse. On this adventurous journey, Moana and Maui encounter obstacles along the way, find strength in each other’s confidence and fulfill their destiny.
I admit, a big part of why I was looking forward to this film is to listen to the new music, the original new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i. And they did not disappoint us. All of the songs for this film should be nominated for Oscar, they’re so lively, they fit the whole theme about legacy, and they’re just extremely catchy, and the music sounds very islander too, I think if you’re a cinephile or a Disney fan that comes from that part of the world, you’ll immediately fall in love with the songs in MOANA, I guarantee it.
As far as the characters and the story go, as I said earlier, MOANA is quite formulaic, I know some people might use the ’if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ argument and to a certain extent, yes if it has worked in the past, then why change it. Obviously Ron Clements and John Musker are representative of Disney cinema, and they consistently take that with them from one movie to the next. So there’s song and dancing, there’s spiritual guidance, there’s a sidekick pet, there’s supernatural magical elements, and there’s a giant arrogant but lovable friend and of course, our lead hero ultimately discovers his or her true identity. It’s as if there’s a specific equation that Clements and Musker always come back to and would never ever deviate from. I give MOANA a million credit for giving us Disney’s first islander princess, we definitely needed one, you can always count me in for diversity. But if you’ve come to see a more original or a different kind of Disney movie, you’ll have a better chance with ‘Zootopia.’ If you’ve come just for a good old fashioned Disney movie that’s pretty safe and very familiar and fun for the whole family, then enjoy MOANA.
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