Disney takes you on a merry ride of ‘Moana’ magic!
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In what could only be described as one of the most detailed and visually master-crafted opening sequences in animation, an adorable toddler (Moana) trots amid a striking landscape where every detail is rendered beautiful – the island of Motunui.
A destined princess, she is next in line to stay and serve her people. But after blight strikes her island, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) must now set sail in search of a missing muscled demigod named Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Propelled by Polynesian myth, together they must journey across the high seas, restore the heart of Te Fiti and bring harmony back to her island. On their expedition, Moana and Maui encounter a swarm of Kakamora pirates in an amusing ‘must not miss’ Mad Max: Fury Road morphed sequence. A familiar script in place, Disney doesn’t detour much from its quintessential character base – a willful princess, a flawed hero in exile, a persuasive older voice and comic reliefs from fun animals and creatures. While a somewhat predictable ensemble, it is the sheer camaraderie of characters that works seamlessly well.
Auli’i Cravalho, a Hawaiian teenager and the youngest girl ever to play a Disney princess, delivers an assured debut as Moana; one that goes well beyond her years. The supporting cast includes her father and Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison), mother Sina (Nicole Scherzinger) and her senile grandma (Rachel House). Alan Tudyk plays the kooky, fumbling, cross-eyed chicken named HeiHei. And none is cooler than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who brings his larger than life persona and swag as the boastful self-obsessed demigod Maui. Complimenting his persona in the film are his synchronized Greek-inspired dancing tattoos. Also attached are masterful music pieces from Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame) who co-wrote the song sequences along with Opetaia Foa’I and Mark Mancina. Their soundtracks include Moana’s girl-power anthem, ‘How Far I’ll Go’ and Maui’s quirky introductory tune, ‘You’re Welcome’. Another bling-tastic track is ‘Shiny’ by Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords.
Veteran directors Ron Clements and John Musker, popularly known for their previous films like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog have comfortably ventured into their first CGI film; adequately embracing digital animation while retaining the savvy outlines of their previous work.
In its 56th animated feature, Disney takes you on a merry ride of ‘Moana’ magic! Visually and narratively triumphant, Moana meaning ‘deep water’ does exceedingly well to stand out in an ocean of movies.
– Varun Kumar | Enterapped
For the time since 2002, Walt Disney Animation Studios has released two feature films in the same year (2016), Zootopia and Moana.