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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Movie Review- Moana

Prepare to be taken  aback at how stunningly beautiful this film is

"If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you're a princess."


Without delving too far into it and/or going on some sort of crusade against discrimination, let me just say that in Hollywood (as well as society), racism is still alive and kicking. Sure we don't see it as much in our faces as society did in the 1960's (and before), but the subtle remnants are still all around us. But the racism that I'm specifically talking about here, is in direct relation to the fact that white sells better than anything else. It has always been a winning factor in the world of entertainment. Start doing some research to see all of the variables in the equation. For now, I'll just stick with the Disney Princesses. Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tiana (The Princess and the Frog), never grabbed the box office clout as well as say Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Rapunzel (Tangled), and Anna & Elsa (Frozen), ever did. Is white still the most comfortable color on screen? Is Disney (as well as Hollywood) still afraid to bank on minorities and their tales? Do we as Americans still prefer our cinematic heroes to be ivory gods and goddesses? Or am I just padding my review because there's not much to say about this movie? Well at least you can't call me a racist. I think.

Moana


Either because they're running out of ideas or they finally realize that the outside world has more interesting stories to offer, Disney has made a film about Polynesian mythology. Moana is good for many reasons; The first being that it has a strong female lead who doesn't rely on some six-pack having surfer dude to define her as a person. Refreshingly, there is no love story to be seen. Just the people's love for their island and their way of life. Second, the animation is so vivid and artistic, that it distracts a whole lot but in a good way. The film's moral of following your heart's calling, fits well in the story line and never gets preachy. There's of course plenty of musical moments, however not one song is bad. A couple even get close to being memorable like in long past Disney animations (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin). Along with some humor-filled moments and large scale action scenes, the songs give Moana an energy that keeps your interest all the through.

Newcomer Auli'i Cravalho as Moana, sounds as if she's been doing voice work for years. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (The Rundown) as the demigod Maui, is the right balance of playful and arrogant to keep things interesting during slow moments on the sea. Even a couple of funny heartfelt scenes with Moana's eccentric Grandmother played by Rachel House (Whale Rider), helps to push her character in the proper direction. Yet there's one thing that concerns me; The majority of the film's laughs comes from a stupid chicken that constantly imperils itself. Sounded off by Alan Tudyk (K-2SO in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Heihei the chicken is a hilarious sidekick, but I wonder if he was added in as some marketing gimmick because the story didn't have enough flair? Regardless, Heihei entertains big time. Jemaine Clement (Men In Black 3) comes in as a flamboyant crab, and kills as always.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Moana


The Good- Gramma Tala's storytelling, the playful ocean, Hey Heihei!, the little Kakamora bastards are cute but deadly, retrieving Maui's hook from Tamatoa, and battling Te Ka to save Te Fiti.

The Bad- The same old protective Father because he doesn't want his daughter to repeat his mistakes thing. Please explain to me; If they all live on an island, how is the Father able to keep his Moana away from the shore for her entire life? They live on the beach! And how did a pig (and a chicken) get onto the island in the first place?

The Ugly- A thousand years of suffering and death, just to fulfill a princess' destiny? When all the living ocean had to do was to put the heart rock back into its rightful place? Sure, I'll buy that.

Final Thoughts


Moana is a decent entry into the Disney Princess library. The story may be a bit predictable and there's no long-lasting greatness besides the animation, but it delivers a strong message to young girls of all colors. Stay after the end credits for a funny scene. There's also a cute animated short just before this film starts (Inner Workings). See this in theaters to up its total intake. Because let's face it, Frozen shouldn't be the highest grossing animated film when its main character can't move more than five feet without the help of a man. A WHITE MAN!!! LOL
Rating- 7.5 out of 10

Moana (2016)

PG  |  107 min  |  Animation, Adventure, Comedy  |  23 November 2016 (USA)

In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain's daughter's island, she answers the Ocean's call to seek out the Demigod to set things right.

Directors: Ron Clements, Don Hall, 2 more credits
Writers: Jared Bush (screenplay), Ron Clements (story by), 
Stars: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House 


movie review, disney, princess, moana, frozen, racism, dwayne johnson, alan tudyk, jemaine clement,  rogue one a star wars story, animation, adventure, comedy,

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