By: Thomas Troyan
Moana is the latest movie from Disney Animation and is one of their best efforts from recent memory. Directed by Disney veterans Ron Clements and John Musker, known for Disney classics such as Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, Moana follows the titular character, a sixteen-year old who is to take the position of village chief from her father, but is also chosen by the Ocean to find the demigod Maui and save the world from an era of darkness.
Moana is the latest musical effort from Disney, the last one being Frozen back in 2013. And unlike Frozen, Moana decided to utilize new talent for its lead rather than established vocal talent. Fifteen-year-old Auli’I Cravalho gives a great first performance bringing the titular character of Moana to life, and has a wonderful performance on the song “How Far I’ll Go”. The soundtrack features a number of compositions by Broadway’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and has a number of memorable tunes that were a treat to listen to throughout. A few of the highlights were the aforementioned “How Far I’ll Go”, the song “Shiny”, a villain song featuring vocal work from Jemaine Clement, and “You’re Welcome”, Maui’s introductory song performed by Dwayne Johnson.
Like earlier Disney film’s such as Mulan, the movie features a strong female lead who is eager to prove that she is more than just a girl. Moana as a character is strong, independent, and adventurous which is nice to see in a movie. The other lead, Maui, functions as an over-confident macho-man, who isn’t originally willing to believe in Moana instead thinking that she is just trying to find him to thank him for all that he’s done for humanity. Watching these two interact together was entertaining, showing great chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Cravalho.
The movie tries its best to please all audiences who come to see it. Featuring family-friendly jokes throughout, along with a few aimed more towards younger audiences, the movie succeeds for the most part. You might not like every joke thrown at you, but you do have to appreciate the charm it’s trying to go for. Although Moana might not be anything groundbreaking for Disney, it shows an exciting step forward for the company and was one of their better films of recent memory. It’s also worth noting that Inner Workings¸ the short before the movie, was another great Disney short. A nice little story about a man’s logical side and his more adventurous other-half, the short is a great treat to include with the main production.