After seeing Moana today, both the music and its story made me reminisce on the old Disney movies from the 90’s like Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aladdin and so on. This’ll probably tip in it’s favour with the Academy for best animated feature. I still find Zootopia much more layered and timely with it’s story and how well written it is. I wouldn’t have any qualms with Moana winning the Oscar however, it was really good.
The music is really good, with one song in particular (How far I’ll go) that’s played at least twice throughout the movie that is definitely the next ‘Let it go’ and should probably win the Oscar for best original song, it’s pretty infectious. The music sequences don’t feel like distractions, you know like having music just for the sake of having music. It helped to further the plot and again made me reminisce from Disneys renaissance from the 90’s.
The voice acting is great, particularly from newcomer Auli’i Cravalho (don’t think I’m ever gonna know how to pronounce that one). The character of Moana is definitely one that young girls should aspire to be like. She’s independent, head strong and self less, a worthy addition to Disney’s princesses. Dwayne Johnson was also great as the demigod Muai, who isn’t the most likable at first but the script offers the character the chance to have an arc to progress as a selfless hero. He also happens to be pretty bad ass, as Mr Johnson is in real life. The characters are well established here, even down to the secondary ones like Gramma (Moana’s grandmother) who guides her on her journey.
I really enjoyed the movie’s sense of culture with the community to which Moana is from. Also it has some of the best animation these eyes have ever seen. It’s truly gorgeous, almost bordering on being on a psychedelic trip. The colours are rich, vibrant and saturated, it needs to be seen in 4K. It was also refreshing to see this movie have both CGI and hand-drawn animation. Ron Clements and John Musker who directed Moana are responsible for the likes of Aladdin, The Princess and The Frog and Hercules. This is their first CGI feature.
The adventure that both Moana and Muai embark on is a lot of fun, peril and self discovery. Some of the peril may be a little much for children younger than 10 so this is something moreso for the whole family. One character the kids will enjoy is Hay Hay, Moana’s docile chicken companion who never seems to know where he’s going. What I also enjoyed is how the movie is somewhat self aware of Disney’s storytelling formula. Muai acknowledges of how Moana is indeed a princess (“you have a dress and you have a sidekick, you’re a princess”), even though she stresses otherwise.
All in all, it’s one of the best of the year, not one of my favourites but still a lot of great fun. Its doing pretty well at the box office at the moment, grossing worldwide at $190 million against an $150 million budget.
My Consensus: I liked it, I’d recommend it but I probably wouldn’t watch it
again anytime soon though.