That’s right, since the lone movie we’re looking at this week is Disney’s latest animated feature, I figure we cross the two posts over so this is a special TATM: Talkin’ About The Movies/The Magical World of Disney crossover post:
The main character will be Moana Waialiki, a sea voyaging enthusiast, and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her family needs her help, she sets off on an epic journey. The film will also include demi-gods and spirits taken from real mythology.
At this point, if you’re not into everything that Disney has done recently, there’s something seriously wrong with you because let’s be honest here, Disney is on a roll, it’s been on a roll for the last couple of years not just with the animated films but with its’ live-action films as well. Yeah, there has been a couple of misfires in there but in this decade of the 2010s, 90% of Disney’s releases they’ve put out have either ranged from good to excellent and at this point, you really should not be questioning much of what Disney has done at this point.
Which brings us to Moana, which is not only another masterpiece from Disney, but I’m at a crossroads because after seeing this movie, I really do believe that when I put my list of the top 10 movies of 2016 out, my top 3 films are gonna probably be all animated movies because Kubo & The Two Strings is #1 so far, Zootopia is #2, and now, Moana may very well be #3 on that list because I really loved this movie.
This really is yet another Disney classic in the making, there is so much to admire about this movie.
The gorgeous animation, not only do you have this excellent CG animation that Disney has perfected very well over the last decade but you also get to see directors Ron Clements and John Musker bringing that unique 2D animation style they brought to The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, & The Princess & The Frog and bring it into the CG animated universe that they’ve created for this film. Even then, this movie does a fantastic job blending the CG animation with bits of 2D animation flawlessly, not even with the tattoos on Maui, which are nicely done, but even in some of the musical numbers, you can tell that the animators tested the limits on how to blend 2D and 3D animation together flawlessly and it definitely shows here.
You’ve also got the excellent music, you really can not go wrong with having a talent like Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame doing the songs for your movie and with the help of composer Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa’i, they’ve created a roster of memorable new songs that don’t quite reach the levels of Beauty & The Beast, Lion King, or Frozen but certainly can stand on their own as new Disney musical classics you’ll be listening to over and over again.
As I talked about in the past, the late Howard Ashman, who co-wrote the songs from The Little Mermaid & Beauty & The Beast, always used to say that “in almost every musical, there comes a place in the second, third, or fourth song where the leading lady usually sits on something and sings about what she wants in life and the audience falls in love with her and roots for her to get it for the rest of the night.”
In this movie, that song is How Far I’ll Go:
Not only is it sung nicely by the star, Auli’i Cravalho, but it’s a great song that allows the listener to understand the character’s motivation and situation in the movie, trying to find her place in the world and what she wants in life and you get why we buy into our heroine and what she needs to accomplish. There’s even a really good version by Alessia Cara that plays at the end of the movie that’s just as good.
It’s a testament to how strong the songs are in this movie and you add Lin-Manuel Miranda’s talents to the lists, he has the potential to become one of Disney’s definitive songwriters on the level of Ashman and Alan Menken and Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. If he decides to do more with Disney in the future, he’s gonna have an incredible future ahead of him.
Like with most of Disney’s classics, there are great characters all around here. Moana herself is a great well-written and well-performed character, newcomer Auli’i Cravalho does a spectacular job in her feature debut as Moana, she’s just such a likeable character in this movie, she’s got those adventurous characteristics that Ariel and Belle have with that flair of Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa and those characteristics blend together very nicely to create such a great character. You can’t go wrong with having Dwayne Johnson in your movie and as Maui, he’s to this movie what Robin Williams was as the Genie to Aladdin, he’s excellent in this and the fact that 95% of this movie is him sharing the screen with Cravalho, their chemistry together works incredibly well. The rest of the cast is good too, you’ve got Temuera Morrison and Nicole Scherzinger as Moana’s parents, Rachel House as Moana’s grandmother as well as Jemaine Clement as a giant crab.
If there is a downside to the casting here, Alan Tudyk’s role in this is kind of pointless, I know that Tudyk has become Disney Animation Studios’ John Ratzenberger in which they’ll always find a role for him like they do with Ratzenberger in every Pixar movie but here, I really felt like Tudyk was put in here just because they needed to have him be there. He plays the chicken in this movie but honestly, the chicken doesn’t really do that much here, he’s kind of pointless. In fact, Ron Clements admitted himself that he was “the dumbest character in the history of Disney animation.” It just seems like the character wasn’t fully realized, the chicken doesn’t do much except to just be somewhat of the comic relief for Moana’s adventure, which, come to think of it, so was Moana’s pet Pua, he’s barely in this movie, he shows up for a bit in the opening and then the end but other than that, he’s barely in this movie. Though to be fair, Tudyk does have another role in this playing a villager so he’s not a complete waste here, also surprised to see that Troy Polamulu, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, also played a villager too.
Moana is another classic feature film to add to the Disney vault with its’ beautiful animation, great voice cast, great characters, great story, a great message about finding your true calling within yourself, great music, there’s no doubt about it, Moana is yet another Disney masterpiece that will be remembered for years and years to come.
Follow The Reviewing Network at our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheReviewingNetwork for continuing updates and debuts for new blog posts and also follow my Twitter feed so you can see new postings right as they are posted.