Moana tells the story of Moana (voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho) as she sails out beyond the reef to find the once mighty demi-God, Maui (Dwayne Johnson) who holds the key to help restore the dying island she will eventually become Chief of.
My Thoughts On The Characters And Story
As per Disney, our free-spirited and wily protagonist is tasked with enduring a life she does not want to lead and the responsibilities she must undertake just does not fly with her. Moana’s character consists of occasional doubt, oozing charisma and a whole lot of beautiful looking hair. She is fleshed out pretty well throughout the film and Cravalho nails her role brilliantly, I felt connected to Moana not only because of the motivations of her character and the challenges she must overcome, but the voice acting and her ability to emote through her young voice was executed flawlessly. I honestly would not expect anything less than perfect with voice casting when it comes to Disney and they truly did a spectacular job casting Moana… Not to mention, this year’s version of “Let It Go” will absolutely be “How Far I’ll Go.”
Guys I love “Let It Go” (no shame) and “How Far I’ll Go” will most definitely be the new drunk karaoke song college students belt out when dealing with the disappointment they bring their parents.
The chemistry she has with Johnson’s Maui is imperative to the success of the film and I am happy to say they work wonderfully together. Their banter was entertaining and again, they utilized each other’s strengths really well. There were a few awkward pop culture references made that took me out of the film for a few seconds, one involved using the term “tweeting.”
I particularly loved everything about Moana’s relationship with her ‘crazy’ grandmother. The relationship between her and her parents is developed as much as need be, albeit they suffer from the “conceal, don’t feel, my daughter!”-syndrome. However there are a few of those Disney-Ripping-Your-Heart-Out moments that got me to the very core of my being and a majority of those moments are related to the relationship she has with her grandmother. The various imagery used in certain instances is just so incredibly beautiful. I lost my grandmother about seven years ago now yet no matter what, when I watch a film that showcases a grandmother with their grandchildren, I get emotional… What Moana accomplishes goes beyond that and will have you ugly crying.
The film is paced relatively well, however there are moments that linger just a tad and there is this chicken sidekick that hangs around… I loved this chicken named Hei Hei (voiced by Alan Tudyk, for some reason). He (It?) was really reminiscent of Becky from another Disney film released earlier this year, Finding Dory. There were a few instances I could have done without him, however he performs a serviceable job as comic relief. What I really want to talk about is the animation in Moana… The animation is just something else.
How Were The Other Aspects To Moana?
Moana does for the CG animation of water what Frozen did for snow, certain sequences leave you in awe by the magnitude of the beauty these animators managed to pull off. If you’re interested, CNET posted a fascinating look at how they developed the water animation for Moana and I would recommend checking out here:
Disney Develops A Water Effects Engine Called “Splash”
Kyle Odermatt, the visual effects supervisor for Disney, reveals what was available on the market “[wasn’t] exactly what [they] were gonna be looking for to achieve the results they wanted” so they decided to take the James Cameron a la Avatar route and just develop an entirely new simulation engine called “Splash.”
And the result of that? Sheer beauty on a riveting scale.
Enjoyable Soundtrack And Score
Certain songs developed for the film are quite catchy and will have you humming them on your way out of the theatre. There is one sequence involving a snail that I did not see coming and that sequence is probably my favourite of the entire film. Every part of it was thrilling, fantastical and the visuals were a-mazing.
If you’re looking for a beautifully animated film with charming characters and catchy songs, check out Moana... And let’s face it, you probably already have.
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Moana receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads