Rambling About Moana (2016)

Nutshell Ramble

Pretty regular, saccharin sweet Disney animated film. Even though the film has nothing special, it makes for a breezy two hours



Full Ramble

Moana is a 2016 computer animated fantasy-drama film directed by Ron Clements and Jon Musker, written by Ron Clements, Jon Musker, Chris Williams, Don Hall, Pamela Ribon, Aaron Kandell and Jordan Kandell. The film stars Auli’l Cravalho and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who voice its lead characters. The film attempts to explore the trails and tribulations of the daughter of a village chief who wants to find her own way and in turn help her village out of a tough situation.

This film boasts of some of the most gorgeous animation of any Disney film in recent memory. The film looks and feels very rich and very well rendered. The direction might be less than creative but it is more than made up for by everything else around it. The fact that actual Samoans were cast to voice the characters adds that extra bit of oomph to the film. The Rock can be only a voice actor, but his innate charm and unparalleled charisma come through the screen. Auli’i Cravalho voices a very likable and relate-able lead in the film. The character of Moana is quite cookie cutter but clichés are cliches for a reason. Her character is pretty fun and her supporting players elevate her by adding a lot of heart to her very clear motivations.

The film suffers from a very unimaginative plot. The film tries its hardest to provide a new heroine for all the little girls to look up to and judging by the reactions of the children sitting next to me, I guess it succeeded. As a man in his mid 20s I, personally, cannot find what about Moana works for me. I see her a the quintessential Disney heroine, no more no less. The film also cannibalizes some older Disney film for motivations and some recent films for scenes. When a film attempts to copy a scene from my favorite film of last year, Mad Max: Fury Road, I will notice it and I will recognize that it is just not as well done. When some striking scenes from some modern films are sprinkled throughout the film, one cannot help but notice the lack of imagination on-screen.

It might be a subjective opinion, but the music on the film falls flat most of the time. It goes for Frozen-esque power songs, but comes up short due to some poor lyrics. The film has a good bunch of comic scenes which are bound to incite some laughter, but the laughter will only come in the form of giggles. The film also follows the recent trend in animated/live action female-led Disney films and puts out a fun little wrinkle where one might expect a standard movie moment.

This is primarily a film for kids. It has some material for adults but it is not a film that has a lot of meat to it. It is very reminiscent of Frozen or Zootopia in that regard. The film thinks it has a lot to say but is always pulling its punches to stay friendly. It does make for a fun watch but that might be where most of the praise directed towards the film ends.




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