Moana Review: Spreading the love for Polynesian Culture!

A spirited teenager, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), sets out on a daring mission to find the once-mighty Demi-God Maui (Dwayne Johnson) to save her island and restore the heart of Te Fiti. Together, they travel the open ocean on an action-packed voyage where they encounter different fiery creatures and overcome impossible odds.

Another visionary masterpiece from the folks at Disney, Moana didn’t disappoint. It was initially a little worrying when I noticed how little marketing was made for the film. Unlike its predecessors, Moana seemed a little under the radar. But even with the little to no effort on marketing, nothing can stop a good animation like Moana from topping the box office.

Source: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures

I had been really excited about the animation when I found out that lyrical genius Lin Manuel Miranda, was to produce the music and lyrics for the film. At that point, there was little to be known about Moana except for the Polynesian culture embedded in the heart of the film. Once the trailer came out, I knew that this was going to be one of my favorites hands-down.

What makes Moana such a gem as compared to the other Disney animation films are the characters and the story line. As it is Moana’s journey of self-discovery, there isn’t a real villain in the animation. This helps with the plot, making the objective clear – restore the heart of Te Fiti. The songs definitely helped in introducing characters that have very little background. Besides being catchy, they also do their part in giving you a sense of what the characters are like.

Aside from it being Moana’s journey, I’d like to think that it is as much Maui’s journey too. He is a character that had good intentions from the beginning but he had the wrong way of expressing them. And though he’d always put himself first, Maui eventually returns to join Moana, distracting Te Kā while she returns the Heart to Te Fiti.

Source: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures

The non-talking characters were also lovable in their own ways especially Pua, who embodies every aspect of my pet dog; and Hei Hei, whom I love and hate at the same time. They delivered some of the cutest fillers and expressions that made Moana all the more enjoyable.

The visual effects for the film was definitely one to remember with the islands and oceans looking almost identical to the real thing. I often found myself marveling at the background like I would in reality. Coupled with the songs, especially in ‘We Know the Way’, I couldn’t help but feel this warm, fuzzy feeling I always get when I can’t express how beautiful or brilliant something is.

Perhaps this won’t resonate so much with the younger audience like Frozen or Zootopia did. But with an adult audience like me, this easily became one of the must-see Disney animations to date.




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