Moana

Moana

(2016)

The ocean is calling.

Disney Animation's 56th animated feature film, from the directors of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. The story is billed as a "mythic adventure", set in the South Pacific 2,000 years ago. Follows a young girl who sets out to find a fabled island, joined by Pacific demi-god Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson).

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Flicks Review

I’m not the correct person to write about the cultural politics surrounding Moana. I am, however, a mad sweaty nerd for animation, and this gorgeous Polynesian family adventure is told with a grandness that is kind of expected from Disney at this point. ... More

The bare bones of the story are fairly traditional: an ancient darkness threatens to swallow the world; a young hero is ‘the chosen one’; and a magical force (in this case, the ocean) works in mysterious ways to make sure the day is saved and lessons are learned.

However, it’s what Disney adds to this blueprint that makes Moana a treasure. As if it’s not satisfying enough seeing a smart ambitious wahine leading the charge, there’s also no romance – her love is for oceanic adventure and for the people she leads. Then there’s Dwayne Johnson voicing a version of Maui whose tattoos are cherished and used as a fun storytelling device.

The relationship between the two leans a bit too hard on them annoying the crap out of each other, though it never goes the full Shrek-n-Donkey. Fortunately, there’s a rooster named Heihei who’s neck-n-neck with Finding Dory’s Gerald for Best Cartoon Dumb-Dumb of the Year.

The songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda and Opetaia Foa’i are mighty. The harmonies in Where You Are will ignite the coldest heart; We Know the Way is a stirring introduction to Moana’s ancestry; and How Far I’ll Go made the hair on my goosebumps stand up. You’re Welcome doesn’t fare as well, a lyrically clever but awkwardly flat-sounding tune, while the Jemaine Clement-sung Shiny is a humorous and catchy number that ends up being cluttered by a visually-busy action scene.

The music triumphs when it simultaneously embraces traditions and embarks from the norm – a quality that empowers the whole film.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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Very enjoyable, nice kiwi feel to it too. Catchy music


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The Press Reviews

  • An amiable new animated musical that speaks to the tween-princess-sleepover demographic while tapping into Polynesian myths and making a modest, decently intentioned gesture at diversity. Full Review

  • Despite Dwayne Johnson's solid scene-stealing, the wave-taming Moana gets a true hero's journey in this South Seas stunner. Full Review

  • Amazing adventure, colour explosions and catchy songs. This is amazing. Full Review

  • There's not a prince or potential husband in sight; Moana's future is entirely defined by her leadership and ability to fend off the mansplaining know-it-all Maui. As messages go, we'll take it. Full Review

  • You succumb to an enjoyable experience that splits the difference between mythology and merchandising. Full Review

  • A lovely, reassuring hug of a movie ... Full Review

  • A crowd-pleasing oceanic musical with big tunes and beguiling characters, Moana is likely to thwack a big smile on your face. Full Review

  • Contemporary Disney at its finest - a vibrantly rendered adventure that combines state-of-the-art CG animation with traditional storytelling and colorful characters, all enlivened by a terrific voice cast. Full Review

  • Keeps with the tradition that made Disney the leader in animated fairy and folk tales, and yet, showing a thoroughly modern touch, it's the first to do so without so much as suggesting a love interest. Full Review

  • A terrific mix of aquatic action (with the animation of the ocean a particular visual highlight) and inspirational thinking about following your own path. Full Review

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