Film Review: Moana

Moana

Directors Ron Clements and John Musker create magic once again with Moana. Seven years after The Princess and the Frog, and 24 years after Aladdin, the duo provide the winning formula for their latest film.

Teenager Moana longs to explore the ocean, but is confined to her birth island by her chief father. However, Moana has been chosen by larger forces to reunite a goddess with a relic. She will need the help of a demigod to complete her mission…

Moana combines all the right ingredients to generate a memorable fantasy adventure. The film recreates a winning formula that was key to some of Disney’s greatest animated films. Nevertheless, the preoccupations have a sufficiently modern edge. In a sense, the film combines the best of the old and the best of the new.

Focusing on the teenage daughter of the of chief (a princess in all but official title), Moana features a quest at the heart of its narrative. The film combines Polynesian mythology with an adventure which has well-paced peaks of tension. The narrative moves at a good pace, introducing characters at good intervals, and allowing for sufficient development for the film’s protagonists.

The title character is suitably strong-willed, yet is endearing enough for viewers to side with her. Moana is very much a modern Disney female protagonist. Taking cues from Brave and Frozen, the protagonist is independent and outspoken. She does not rely on the strength of a man to escape peril, and there is no love interest (so obligatory in the earlier Disney princess films). She is a modern character, and a good role model to children. Maui, similarly, goes through his own personal development through the course of the film.

Songs in Moana, some of which were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, are excellent. They have a show tune quality, which complements the style of the film. The animation is incredibly appealing. Auli’i Carvalho, Dwayne Johnson, and Jermaine Clement are great in their respective roles.

Moana is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure, which should please viewers young and old.

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