Science fiction and fantasy
directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
Moana, though, is chosen by the sea - the water responds to her as though it's a living being. When the island, her tribe's only source of food, starts to suffer diseases and terrible harvests Moana knows she has to act. So she sets off in search of the trickster demigod spoken about in her people's legends.
Maui (Dwayne Johnson) is a stubborn, obstructive and proud demigod with plenty of sass and humour. Moana is also accompanied by Heihei (Alan Tudyk), the world's stupidest chicken. Together they take off on a fast-paced adventure that's as colourful as the shiny shell of Tamatoa (Jemaine Clement), one of the monsters they encounter.
The songs are catchy, and of the calibre to be sung time and again. My personal favourites are Tamatoa's Shiny, How Far I'll Go, and You're Welcome as sung by Dwayne Johnson. The soundtrack composition is a collaboration between Mark Mancini, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Opetaia Foa'i, and it really is cracking.
The story delivers the emotional ups and downs and feelgood, life-affirming tone that's typical of Disney movies. Perhaps the greatest feelgood sense comes from Moana herself: she's a determined young woman who wants to chart her own course and make her own story. She has agency. Aesthetically she has a realistic body type, strong rather than too slender, that matches her character and is encouraging to see. It's also great to have a Polynesian character to balance the whitewashing of many Hollywood films.
As the PG rating implies, this film never gets above mild peril. In fact, it takes a while to reach its eventual intense pace as we learn about Moana's island and the characters, both human and animal, who live there. This story makes time for humour and other strong emotions, so we have time to appreciate what her home island means to Moana and why she must protect it.
Beyond a simple yet compelling story of a girl's quest to find herself, Moana is notable for the things it leaves out. There's no romance, no prince to marry, no questioning Moana's right to lead, and no passive heroine waiting to be rescued. This is the kind of film that won't leave girls feeling inadequate, under-represented, or self-conscious. It's also a fantastic, heartwarming, tear-jerking, thrilling, cheeky, musical escape.
29th December 2016
If you like this, try:Maleficent by Robert Stromberg
This re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty tells the story from the point of view of the fairy who curses Aurora.
Brave by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell
In a fantasy Scotland full of bears, kilts, and haggis, Princess Merida fights for the right to decide her own fate.
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: seen at the cinema
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