A Film Review: Moana

This looked good.

It sounded great.

It was only until I sat down to watch it on New Year’s Eve with my girlfriend did I realise it was fantastic.

Moana is Disney’s venture into creating a beautiful film imbued with polynesian culture and mythology, and how on earth did it take so long? This film is positively filled to the brim with colour, characters, music and life.

The film follows the titular Moana: the daughter of her tribe’s chief and lover of the sea. Her father expects her to ascend to chiefdom and maintain their peaceful existence on their island, however moana yearns to explore past the reef that surrounds them.

This film does a fantastic job of realising true multidimensional characters which was great because they haven’t done so well in that department recently (*cough* Rogue One).

Characters are introduced seemingly one dimensional: ambitious teenager, over protective father, crazy old lady, narcissistic  show off. However once tested and stripped back we come to realise that all these characters have their reasons and their motives and it’s how they confront these issues that define them.
Maui, voiced by the rock, was my personal favourite character. Established in the opening scene as the closest thing you can get to being a villain, results in sheer satisfaction during the journey when he understands his purpose.

Essentially Moana is about who you are and what makes you who you are, which is a very important theme which will resonate with all audiences, because it sure did with me.

The animation literally stunned me with perfect recreations of water, sand and greenery. The voice acting is so on point. The Rock was born for this kind of work and his enthusiam shows, plus newcomer Auli’i Cravalho is fantastic, essentially carrying the film when it’s just her and her boat.

But let’s get to the real important stuff: the songs.

It has less songs than your usual disney film, clocking in at five full songs with only three of them being worthy of a sing a long. But my lord how catchy they all are.
I’m still listening to How Far I’ll Go two days after viewing and it has two reprises. Two.
That, my friends, is quality over quantity. How great is it also to get a set of songs so different to your usual style of songs found in your typical disney film?
All I can say is that by the time Moana proclaims “I am Moana!” in an epic reprise, I was one beat away from fist pumping my way into the streets.

Many popular reviewers say that the story lets it down and I do agree to a point.
It’s an adventure/journey film with a structure of “lets go here, get the thing, meet the character, repeat until finish”, not something that is new or exciting, but does that harm the film? Not in my opinion. It serves the characters and really that is at the heart of this film.

Real talk here, this film won’t ever be as popular as the mega hit Frozen.
But it belongs with Tangled: a superior film with great characters and gorgeous animation.

Moana: 9/10


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