Friday, 9 December 2016

'Moana' Review

2016 has been blessed with some great animated movies. 'Zootropolis/Zootopia', 'Kubo and The Two Strings' and 'Storks' have been particular highlights for me with the likes of 'Finding Dory' following shortly behind. Disney is back again and looking to add to that list with 'Moana'. And they did just that.

Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) is growing tired of being stuck on the one island. After her grandmother reveals a secret about their people and what has caused them to be secluded , Moana sets off on a journey to make things right. Moana will need the help of demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) as they travel across the ocean against dark forces.

2016 has been an incredible year for Disney. If you include the success of the Marvel movies as well as the inevitable success of 'Rogue One' with the animation success, then 2016 is one of the companies best years in recent memory. With Pixar bringing 'Finding Dory' to become the year's highest-grossing film, as well as Disney's 'Zootropolis' (Zootopia), the year has been a financially and critically successful year. And 'Moana' only builds on that.

Following in the footsteps of 'Tangled' and 'Frozen' comes yet another upbeat musical with fun, interesting characters. The film introduces actress Auli'i Cravalho who is phenomenal in her film debut. Cravalho shines as Moana, doing exceptionally well with her delivery throughout the film. The young Hawaiin actress also showcases her beautiful singing voice, giving the likes of Idina Menzel (Frozen) and Mandy Moore (Tangled) a run for their money. Cravalho isn't alone in bringing quality to the movie as she only has the help from the world's biggest movie star, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. And it is clear to see why Johnson is on top of the world as his charisma and comedy is on point throughout this film. Johnson provides great support to his co-star as the two showcases great chemistry, bouncing off one another and interacting very well to bring some heart to the film. 

It's very well known that Disney is the kings of animation as the company have been powering out classics since the 1930's. The companies ability to create fantastic, entertaining, intriguing characters is part of the reason to why they have been so successful. Directors John Musker and Ron Clements have been a part of classics like 'The Little Mermaid', 'Aladdin' and 'Hercules', which most people would agree are filled with great characters. 'Moana' is no different. Moana herself is a fun character who won't let anything come in between herself and her goals. She is strong willed but not perfect as she is still young and fairly naive. The character of Maui portrayed by Dwayne Johnson is an incredibly well-written character. Maui is at fault for causing trouble beyond Moana's island as he grew greedy with power. Maui had good intentions for the world but the constant need for praise and approval continued to push the demi-god to make rash decisions. Maui progresses through the film to think about others rather than just himself. It is very clear that the creators really thought about this character, taking the time to give him more than just cool abilities which they so easily could've done so.

Disney set 'Lilo and Stitch' in Hawaii but they had yet created a film surrounding the mythology surrounding the Pacific Islands. It's crazy to think this as well considering how the area is an animators dream. The scenery alone is breathtaking in the film as it truly is made to loo like paradise but the ocean as well is beautiful. Due to the mythology within the film, the creators got a chance to experiment with shapeshifting, lava monsters and the Kakamora- an homage to 2015's 'Mad Max: Fury Road'. There are many aspects of this film that seem to be perfect for an animator as there are so many fun aspects that they were able to craft. The animation is top quality of course, as you would expect from such an established name.

If you're someone who had 'Let It Go' constantly stuck in your head back in 2013, then prepare for 'Moana' to have the same effect on you! Whether it is Cravalho's 'How Far I'll Go' or Johnson's 'You're Welcome', you will be humming or singing along for weeks to come. The songs are infectiously catchy and upbeat that will not only entertain you but just make you happy. 'How Far I'll Go' is the standout song from this musical and probably a safe bet for an Academy Award nomination. The talent involved do great as the music is combined with beautiful vocals to create something truly magical.

'Moana' is yet another great addition from Disney. There is so much to enjoy about this film, whether it is from the characters, the visuals or the music. The fun is infectious and a good time is guaranteed with this one. Another great film for the list of quality animation works in 2016 which we may hear more of during award season. If you don't mind me, I'm going to listen to the soundtrack some more now. 

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Moana'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film which I highly recommend. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor