Moana (Disney, 2016)

Directed by: John Musker and Ron Clements 

 Screenplay by: Jared Bush 

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwyane Johnson, Rachel House, Temeura Morrison and Jemaine Clement.

Songs and Music by: Mark Mancina, Lin Manuel Miranda and Opetaia Foa’i

Moana is the latest, animated, no doubt soon-to-be classic from Walt Disney Animation. Directed by the two guys behind The Little Mermaid, The Princess and The Frog and Aladdin,  Moana had high expectations laid out for it. 

The tale of a young girl, a High Chief’s daughter, dreaming of being able to leave her island and see the world. Moana herself, is probably Disney’s most well rounded “Princess” in, well, ever. 

Her story isn’t particularly groundbreaking,  but it’s told with such passion and heart, it’s hard not to become enraptured with Moana and her supporting cast. The gist, is that thousands of years ago, a demi-God stole the heart of a  life creating Goddess causing death and decay to spread across the seas. Moana has to disobey her father, find this Demi-God and save the world.

Of course, the Demi-God is the mischievous Maui, played with charismatic swagger by The Rock himself, Dwayne Johnson. His chemistry with the outstanding Auli’i Cravalho is what keeps the film so vital and energetic. Their banter and butting-heads makes you laugh and makes you cry, truly wonderful.

Moana’s grandmother, Gramma Tala, played by Rachel House was my personal favourite character and probably the best representative of the film as a whole, hilarious and bursting with a huge heart. Her songs are meaningful and move th story along. Like Yoda or Obi Wan, she dispenses wisdom to our young heroine.  

I couldn’t talk about Moana without mentioning the incredible songs by Lin Manuel Miranda and Opetaia Foa’i. I make no secret of my love for Miranda’s Hamilton,  which was why Moana caught my attention in the first place. 

The songs in Moana range from tribal island and traditional Pacific vocals, through Hamilton-esque ensmeble tracks, as well as the phenomenonal “Shiny” by Jemaine Clement from Flight of The Conchords. No spoilers on his part or the song, but fans of FOTC will be very pleased. 

For what most would see as a “kids film”, Moana is filled with sharp wit, great action and astonishing visuals.

In fact, Moana reminded me more of Mad Max Fury Road than it did the likes of Frozen or Tangled, both of which are great movies. You’ll see what I mean when the Kakamora, the little coconut armored pirates show up. Walking out of the cinema I was thinking to myself that it’s almost a Disney version of Clash of The Titans! The old, good, Clash of The Titans of course. 

Moana just feels on that next level. With Dwayne Johnson turning in a Robin Williams in Aladdin level performance, some truly outstanding songs and insanely good animation, Disney have proved they are head and shoulders above their competitors. 
Moana is easily in my Top 10 films of the year, I’m sure it would rank in yours too  
5/5

For Fans Of:

Frozen 

Mad Max Fury Road 

Waterworld

Hamilton 

Flight of The Conchords 

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