Moana

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Moana

Disney continues its winning streak with this big-hearted musical animation about a young woman fighting to protect her Pacific island community

This charming animated family movie about a teenage Polynesian girl fighting to save her Pacific island’s future feels like business as usual for Disney in many ways. There’s a strong young female lead, catchy show tunes, lush landscapes and talking animals – a hermit crab with a fondness for trinkets almost steals the film and a dim chicken offers light relief.

But this tale from the directors of ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ also feels like progress. Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) is a young woman of colour set to take over from her father as the leader of an island community way back in the past (their beliefs are based around sea-travel and the island’s creation myth). When the plants on Moana’s island start to wither, the ocean chooses this 16-year-old to defy her father’s orders and set sail in search of a muscled demi-God Maui (Dwayne Johnson, self-mocking and funny), who can help her secure her people’s future. 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 them.

The story is a fairly simple quest tale as Moana takes to the open water in uneasy cahoots with macho Maui. His animated tattoos are among the film’s visual highlights, alongside the azure waters lapping the sand. There are some belters on the soundtrack, a few of them courtesy of man-of-the-moment Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the Broadway smash hit musical ‘Hamilton’. (Although most memorable is the more playful ‘Shiny’, the crab’s magpie-like ode to glittering things, sung by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement.)

Late in the film, ‘Moana’ serves up a memorable foe, Te Ka, a smouldering, smoking giant made of lava. But the film’s strongest emotional pull comes in the form of Moana’s relationship with her elderly grandmother and, when she passes, the memory of her. Along with the film’s hippy-ish musings on the relationship between humans and the elements, it gives the film a moving, supernatural touch.

By: Dave Calhoun

Posted:

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday December 2 2016
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker

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Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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LiveReviews|8
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Kirsty E
Tastemaker

A really lovely Disney movie which will appeal to little girls who dream of being Princesses in far off lands! It features probably some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen on screen, in fact it's hard to believe it is all CGI!

The film centres around a young girl destined to rule her tribe but being drawn to the sea and setting off on a dangerous adventure with her chicken side kick who steals the show! Maui is brilliant too as the loveable rogue who just wants to be a hero. The story holds a few morals too such as being good to the land and being true to yourself. Some lovely songs and emotional moments, particular with Moana's grandmother, make this a really beautiful movie.

elladacas
tastemaker

Ahhhh Moana..... Beautiful setting and loads of colour. I loved some of the songs in this animation and I'm sure they will stay with me for a very long time to come but I wasn't sold on the whole storyline ... I know I know ... But lately animations are so amazing that this just didn't cut it :( yeahhhhh but the ending was glorious though!

Mei M
Tastemaker

Disney has evolved so much in the last ten years, going from bland although beautifully looking romantic stories to authentic come of the age tales where strong characters have a strong purpose. I think this is a great message to deliver to kids, and oh they do pick it up! My nephew couldn't stop talking about the main character of Moana.


We loved the songs, I don't need to tell you how beautifully designed the movie is, and just very pleasant to watch even for grown ups like me. Alessia Cara's main theme is also lovely.

Haley W
tastemaker

I enjoyed this refreshing film based on a head strong female lead who sought her own adventure into the unknown over the standard princess types. Moana is naïve at times but her  journey really begins when she collides with the demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) in search of restoring the heart of goddess Te Fiti (mother nature). The end is predictable like many however there were many laughs throughout especially from the talents of Dwayne Johnson's character Maui and the pet chicken HeiHei who mistakenly comes on the journey, is confused as a ‘boat snack’ by Maui and somewhat ends up in the right place at the right time. This is a perfect family movie as Moana holds her own as a Disney character and the unexpected link of  our connections with the earth and elements unfold throughout as Moana is spirited on by her late grandmother 'Tala' represented as a glowing Manta Ray in the deep blue depths of the wide open ocean when she her hope waivers.

Tara P
Tastemaker

Moana is Disney's first full-length venture into Polynesian climes: a sea-faring, island hopping tale of adventure and family expectation under sunny skies. Despite the 'Frozen' weight of expectation on its shoulders, Moana holds its own. With an engaging protagonist who longs to explore the ocean, some excellent animal sidekicks and the vocal talents of The Rock, it is both beautiful and engaging. Island life is wonderful (if a tad sugar-coated) on-screen, and the characters have enough passion and emotion to drive the story forwards. The plot is not the most compelling or original, but addictive songs and a happy outlook dull your awareness of this until you're humming along in a grinning trance. The talents of Lin Manuel Miranda have been put to good use: the headlining 'How Far I'll Go' at first seems a tad contrived, but improves with encores and by the third listen is utterly addictive. 'We Know The Way' is the standout new addition, with hundreds of years of ancestral history conveyed through one short, hummable tune. Moana is perfect family viewing. A reverse Little Mermaid with hints of Mulan and some touches reminiscent of Hercules, this new adventure is a melting pot of classic Disney storytelling with a dash of Polynesian new-ness. It's a joy to watch.

Sarah G
Tastemaker

We had a pre Christmas family trip to see Moana. If I'd reviewed it straight away I think it would have been three or four stars as it felt pretty regular Disney, not that memorable or remarkable. However, since we've been home all of us have been talking about the characters and singing the songs so clearly it did strike a chord. It is great that it has a strong female lead who forms friendships, not romances, who overcomes fears and saves the day.


I think, on balance, it's a keeper!

Kirsty S
tastemaker

Thoroughly enjoyed this refreshing take on the Disney Princess franchise, on par with Frozen, Shrek and other family adventure flicks.


The rock, aka Maowi is hilarious, and a surprisingly good singer ! 


Fantastic wit and subtle changes in what is is to be a Disney princess, an animal sidekick being one, Moana is fearless, brave and a fantastic role model for young kids. 


Animation is fantastic, heartwarming songs and the perfect treat for kids and grown ups.

SB

Moana is delightful. Dare I say it, I preferred this to Frozen.

I loved the fact that Moana does not like to be called a princess and that she has no love interest, instead she is shown as a strong young girl facing up to her fears.

It still has the charms of other Disney films like the songs and is aimed at all ages.

I would recommend going to watch Moana as you will leave the cinema smiling.