Director: Ron Clements & John Musker
Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk
In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right. (Source: IMDb)
Since Tangled (2010), Walt Disney Animation Studios has had a pretty successful run. Following the retelling of the Rapunzel story, there was the video game inspired Wreck-it Ralph (2012), superhero movie Big Hero 6 (2014), and of course all-conquering, musical behemoth Frozen (2013). With anthropomorphic animated buddy-cop comedy Zootropolis (or Zootopia if you’re that way inclined) also proving to be a smash-hit this year, the Disney computer animated films seem like they can finally stand alongside the greats of Pixar. Moana has some pretty big shoes to fill, but with an all-star voice cast, a directing duo who were responsible for bringing us Disney classics such as Aladdin (1992), and a return to Disney’s musical magic, it had all the makings of a classic.
Moana is undoubtedly a Disney classic through and through, and time will tell whether it becomes the beast that it’s icy predecessor was, but there is absolutely no question that it deserves to be included in the same conversation.
As is to be expected with Disney animated movies, the animation is of an exceedingly high calibre, and the scenery in particular looks absolutely gorgeous. It’ll immediately transport you to the island paradise, and it positively glows with warmth and vibrant colour. The sequences involving water are particularly breath-taking, and when combined with the music, will send shivers down your spine.
The Frozen soundtrack might bring on nightmares for the hardy parents who have endured it for the last 3 years, and this might be bad news for the parents of young kids, but the Moana soundtrack undoubtedly has that same earworm quality! The songs in Moana are quite simply fantastic, easily comparable with some of the greatest in the pantheon of Disney musical classics. The main song, “How Far I’ll Go” could easily be considered the “Let it Go” of this film, and it provides a memorable motif which is repeated and reprised throughout. There’s also a gorgeous sequence set to the song “I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)” that’ll give you goosebumps, the perfect pairing of music and visuals. As well as soaring epics, there’s a couple of light-hearted numbers in there as well, and “You’re Welcome” sung by Dwayne Johnson is great fun, and proves he actually has a pretty good voice. I was surprised and delighted to hear Jemaine Clement crop up as well, voicing a shiny-shelled crab, who gets his own surreal song and dance number. As a huge Flight of the Conchords fan, I absolutely adored this moment!
The voice cast are all pitch-perfect, and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho is absolutely wonderful in the lead role. Not only does she have an incredible singing voice, but there’s warmth, honesty, and humanity in her portrayal of Moana. The character is one of the most empowering female characters Disney have brought us to date; she’s spirited, determined, driven, and a fantastic role model to young girls, which is the most important thing really. Dwayne Johnson is also great as Maui, although I found it difficult to separate the character from the actor as he has such a recognisable voice!
There’s very little to criticise here, but the only thing for me was that it perhaps felt about 10 to 15 minutes too long. The story on the whole was really great, but if the visuals, songs and characters hadn’t been so compelling, it perhaps wouldn’t have held my interest for it’s entirety as there’s times when the story is a little on the repetitive side.
I saw this movie and you should too. Moana is a gorgeous, sumptuous, sweeping breath of fresh air, and one of the most beautiful animated films of the year. Disney deliver once again with the songs, which are the real star of the show here, but there’s an abundance of things to enjoy. Moana has all the makings of a Disney classic, and maybe, just maybe, it’s soundtrack will finally replace Frozen in your cars, parents. Rejoice!
Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a totally misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Let me know in the comments below!