Plot: Everybody’s gone surfing, surfing Disnay
Moana’s the story of a young girl who goes on a quest to stop an ancient evil destroying the island she will one day be chief of, she tackles watery obstacles and meets Dwayne Johnson’s character Maui the demi-god along the way.
Probably the most obviously incredible thing about Moana is the animation. One of the classic challenges of animation is portraying water realistically but Moana manages to be visually stunning throughout the whole run time with lava and water both looking incredible. This includes brilliant fictional landscapes and refreshingly diverse character models.
The songs are also pretty good with Lin-Manuel Miranda involved in the writing. However, and this is obviously extremely subjective but personally I don’t feel they really hold up to the infinitely catchy likes of those from Frozen, probably the most comparable film to Moana, or those of Disney classics. Not that I didn’t like them but I just didn’t have them immediately in my head the way I did with Let It Go or something like Make a Man Out of You from Mulan.
I think my main problem with Moana though is that it just doesn’t feel like anything new. ‘Female lead goes on a journey to save her kingdom from disaster and learns a lesson along the way with a wise-cracking male side character and a few good tunes’ just feels overused now. I didn’t leave thinking that I’d seen anything particularly ground-breaking or innovative but yet another rehash of the same thing. Moana as a character is ok and her Grandmother is excellent but far too much time is spent on the island at the start and her fathers backstory seems shoehorned in to give a reason for him not going on the journey.
The jokes were alright, there were a fair few laughs throughout with the chicken getting the best visual gags and the Rock manages plenty of Rock-esque one-liners.
Moana does work to an extent as a kids film, I’m sure young people will like it very much but for me it just didn’t have the originality or depth I’ve come to expect from Disney.
Just a quick note there’s a short pre-film animation called Inner Workings that I thought was really enjoyable, well animated and full of heart that is definitely worth watching even if you don’t see Moana.