Review: Moana

- -

MOANA A BEAUTIFUL AND INSPIRING WORK OF ART FROM TWO RETURNING LEGENDS

Welcome back gentlemen; thus the first thought that came to mind upon seeing a grand achievement that is Walt Disney Studios’ latest outing “Moana”. The gentlemen in question are of course Ron Clements and John Musker, the acclaimed directorial team behind such Disney classics as “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” who now return after a seven-year absence with “Moana”; it’s not solely one of the best and most beautiful animated films of the year but a testimony to the hard work of all those involved in its production. Assembled together they have made a visually and emotionally beautiful work of art.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKFuXETZUsI

For Moana, the young daughter of an island chief, the allure of exploring the ocean is a constant source of wonder; yet faced with pressures to fulfill her duties at home and a call to venture out beyond the island’s shores this young teen must make a choice that will determine the future of her people. When she teams up with the legendary demigod Maui on a perilous mission to return a precious mythical stone she learns that the strength of a God resides within us all; with a little heart, conviction, and bravery we can all face the challenges ahead and shape our own futures.

There’s no question that at this point the output of the Disney studio will result in a successful venture at the box office yet just when we think the Disney cannon can’t be made any stronger films like “Moana” appear.  A work in progress for the last five years (Clements and Musker even traveled to various Polynesian nations to research and consult cultural historians on the region’s mythology) “Moana” is a charming and delightful tribute to the beauty of the ocean, family, courage, and love. The CG animation is gorgeous especially in its depiction of the water and the faces of the South Pacific people; for the directors it marks their first time working with computer animation (indeed they were behind the studios last traditionally animated movie ‘The Princess and The Frog’ in 2009) yet they seem to have not lost a step. As with their earlier work we have a colorful (figuratively and literally) cast of characters, an inspiring and family-friendly narrative, and a great musical backdrop. While the abandonment of traditional animation remains a dreadful reality, it is so welcome to see Clements and Musker brought back into the fold to create cinematic art for a new generation.

 

But besides its wonderful animation, “Moana” is a winner because of so many winning elements. It features a great song-score co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda that should hopefully give many of us reprieve from the ubiquitous “Frozen” musical barrage, and fine voice acting turns particularly from newcomer Auli’i Cravalho and the ever-versatile Dwayne Johnson. In her first film role Cravalho is assertive and natural, keep an eye out for her as she explores the opportunities that will come her way; Johnson once again shows his acting chops not only being genuinely funny but by providing his own singing voice for Maui’s song. Ultimately, however, it’s the message behind “Moana” that combined with the animation, music and voice talent make it soar.Be not afraid to choose your path, stand up for what you love, and be true to yourself.

There’s been a great number of animated works this year but for the team behind “Moana”, it will be rewarding to know that amongst so many well-made films, their film stands as perhaps the top of them all. It’s a rewarding experience for everyone and whether you’re looking for beautiful animation, great music, a heartwarming story, or just a few laughs “Moana” has them all. Welcome back Mr. Clements and Musker, in 2016 what a joy it is to see that the magic of Aladdin’s lamp has not worn off on you!

 

Michael Vecchio
Michael Vecchiohttp://beforethecyborgs.com
Michael Vecchio is a contributing writer for Before The Cyborgs. A graduate of the University of Alberta, he is a keen follower of events in the world of film, as well as politics and history. You can also hear him podcast about film and politics

FIND US ON

READ MORE

Review: Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns has its charms but cannot escape the shadow of the original.

Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer Is a Solid Thriller That Falls Short Of Its Ambitions

Yorgos Lanthimos shows off his unique style once again in The Killing of a Sacred Deer - a thriller that both captivates and frustrates.

Review: Call Me By Your Name is a Beautiful Slice of Summer Romance

Call Me By Your Name is one of the best movies of the year capturing the feeling of first love in a perfect summer romance

Making the Case: Phantom Thread For Best Picture

Paul Thomas Anderson (and his films) have traditionally been snubbed by the Academy when it comes to awards. Should his latest be different? We make our case for Phantom Thread winning Best Picture.

Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Saturation, noun. Definition: to a very full extent, beyond the point regarded as necessary or desirable. It's perhaps the perfect word to describe Solo: A Star Wars Story

Related Articles

Visionaries: Three Men and the Modern Disney Songbook

Profiling Alan Menken and the Sherman brothers collectively responsible for creating some of the most iconic music in the Disney catalogue.

Heaven Is A Place on Earth: Filmstruck Is A Movie Lovers Dream

The best films in movie history all for less than $100 annually. It's time to give the Netflix of classic and indie films a try.

Favorite Stan Lee Cameos – BTC Staff Survey

We honor the legendary comics creator by running down our favorite Stan Lee cameos. What's your favorite Stan Lee cameo?