‘I AM MOANA’
On this blog, we’re huge fans of Disney. They are the childhood staple of many kids since the 1930s and 40s. So, when you see the growth of diversity in Disney, you also see the rise of understanding within the viewership. It’s easy to see why little girls, transgender, poor and downtrodden are now more empowered. Which is why Moana is so important.
The story follows a young girl, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) as she struggles to find her own path. Even against her father’s wishes, she is called by the sea to follow her destiny. And, before long she heads out onto a great adventure to return The Heart of Te Fiti to its rightful place with the help of the reluctant Maui (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson).
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
The first thing that hit me while watching Moana was how far Disney’s animation has come! With the great sweeping sceneries and keen attention to detail, this movie is stunning to look at. All while keeping the style they have made iconic since (maybe) Toy Story.
And maybe, just maybe they should have waited to make the hair-based adventure of Tangled until after Moana. Because the hair animation is killer! Sorry Rapunzel, your magical hair has nothing on Maui’s.
GOOD OL’ FAMILY FLICK
The movie’s story itself is lauded for its lack of forced romance plot; strong female characters and its meta references to Disney tropes. However, these have become rightfully commonplace in Disney’s modern movies. Instead, we should be focusing on the plot as a whole.
I greatly enjoyed this big-screen animated adventure for what it was: a good ol’ family flick. It had moments of laughter and moments of tearfulness. And the ending is the piece de resistance. However, it still followed the predictable Hollywood plot-line that has been around since Walt Disney Studio’s birth. And, this only counts for family films: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I would definitely would have preferred less predictability as a whole. Or more of an adventure feel to it. As I watched it, I didn’t feel there was that ‘vastness’ we needed to truly understand just how far Moana did go.
WHAT IS HAMILTON?
Now, for the moment everyone has been waiting for: the music. This is the main thing everyone has been talking about since its debut. Can I say this, though? I don’t care diddly about Hamilton. I’ve never heard anything from it. However, if what Lin-Manuel Miranda has shown us in Moana represents his skills as a composer, then maybe it’s worth the watch.
Because my god! The soundtrack to Moana is definitely powerful in the way Beauty and the Beast (1991) and (dare I say) nearly as powerful as The Lion King. Nearly.
However, it is a shame that most of the songs are simply reprises of ‘How Far I’ll Go’. Yes, I’m sure they did it to represent how each change challenges her outlook. But come on! The songs we had were so good we need more. I think Aladdin did reprises perfectly, and maybe if Moana had done it in a similar way we’d have the best of both worlds.
PERFECTED CHARACTER TROPES
As with all stories, characters should be what build a world. And the cast of Moana are the staple Disney cast, nowadays. A naive and plucky young heroine with a funny animal companion enlists the help of a cool but reluctant comedy stereotype of the hero. Extra points for the overtly villainous ‘creeper’. Again, Disney have perfected these tropes to the point that it doesn’t really matter.
However, I say ‘really’ because it’s a little bit of what I find wrong with Disney nowadays. I said before that a story is driven by its characters rather than the events themselves. So when you have heroines all with similar outlooks and goals, you end up with very similar stories. Not to mention that you’re doing ‘people’ wrong. It’s not about skin colour, culture or even sex that Disney struggle with now: it’s personalities. In recent years, their focus on the heroines being strong and heroes being unheroic has cost them their relatability. At least, in the Disney films I’ve seen lately.
In conclusion, I love Moana as a great fun, innocent family film with a killer soundtrack. But my deeper respect comes from the ending. I won’t spoil it here for you, but it was the most powerful ending I’ve seen in a Disney film. Even compared to Mulan.
Moana is a great big-screen movie that explores a culture I’ve never really been exposed to, and has made me fall in love with it. But it also explores the consequences, of seemingly thoughtless actions and fighting blindly for other people’s approval.
And can I add: This is the first ever Disney film I’ve seen with not a single romance subplot. I see you Nani from Lilo and Stitch.
What are your thoughts on Moana? Is there another film you’d love for me to review?