Disney's Moana review: ★★★★★
The hottest new kids film of the year: Disney's 2016 animated film Moana is the the story of a powerful young teenager on a mission to save her people
Family friendly Moana, Disney 2016: REVIEW: Culture Whisper says: ★★★★★
"You're in a dress and you've got an animal sidekick: you're a princess." 16-year-old Moana may object, but Maui (Dwayne Johnson) is right: Moana is definitely another addition to the Disney princess franchise.
Second only to JK Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Moana is the family film that's been touted as the most exciting release of the year, and for good reason. Presumably trying to re-create the popularity of Frozen, Moana's story is all about female empowerment, self acceptance and the power of friendship. A feel-good story such as this couldn't have come at a more necessary moment.
Generally when it comes to Disney princesses, the studio either conjures up fantasy world in which to set it (say, Frozen or Cinderella) and winds up accused of having a white-centric world view or, when they do attempt to embrace other cultures, gets told they're guilty of ethnic stereotyping and cultural appropriation. They have been extremely brave to stray into Polynesian mythology.
The gamble pays off nicely. In what could easily be liberal, climate-change fanatic's perfect dream, Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) must rescue her blissful pre-industrial island by returning the 'heart' of Te Ka to the green goddess and reversing all the ecological damage and destruction that has come about as the result of man's careless hedonism. To do so, she must defy her father's orders to never sail beyond the reef, recruit the help of a narcissistic but essentially kind demi-God, Maui and together fight against the forces that want to claim the heart for their own so that they may have the power of creation.
Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who together gave us the Disney classics The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Princess & the Frog and featuring music by none-other than 2016's hottest musical triumph, Lin-Manuel Miranda (he of Hamilton fame), Moana is a heart-warming story full of funny moments, but definitely without the sophistication in either language or plot that big hitters such as Frozen and Zootopia boast.
A lovely family-friendly film, but (like Maui himself) probably not destined to be the internationally beloved success story it was hoping to be.
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02 Dec 2016 – 31 Jan 2017, Show times vary
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