Review: Sailing over idyllic seas with tropical islands as background, our self-proclaimed non-princess Disney Princess is going out of her comfort zone fulfilling her lifetime obsession and, most importantly, saving her world from famine. She is Moana—daughter of a Polynesian chieftain—who voyages to the wilderness to find a demigod Maui and restore what-so-called diamond of Te Fiti back for a quest of a lifetime.
In short, Moana manifests Disney’s commitment into stripping off their Disney princesses’ stereotype. The ‘princess’ character is versatile; she even embodies the ‘sense of empowerment’, shooing away the sexism commentary about prince-charming-centered characters from the golden era. Moana is not an interpersonal love story; it’s more than that; and it’s what makes it unravel a completely new era for Disney.
Helmed by Disney’s Renaissance veterans, Ron Clements and John Musker (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Hercules), Moana emanates vigorous energy all over the places ever since the opening with a surprisingly, completely different girl powers. Starting off with the tribe’s version of genesis, including the descends of demigod/avatar, Maui (enthusiastic Dwayne Johnson), it introduces us to the quest Moana (native Auli’i Cravalho) must take. In the background, the narrative completely embraces the nature and, most importantly, culture of lesser known Polynesian tribes to progress.
There’s nothing overly special with the titular character, but as you listen to “An Innocent Warrior” sung in local tongue, you know that her journey would be different from most Disney films. Exotic feels and cultural traits harmonize as it accompanies Moana into her personal journey, a quest to seek for her truest identity wrapped along her concerns towards her tribe.
Similar to her identity-seeking quest, her humanity quest is as menacing and it has never been an easy one. Same as how his father forbids her to sail the sea, obstruction isn’t a thing to put Moana down. Crushing waves, storms, and even Mad Max-esque pirate colony called Kakamora, as well as villainy giant crab, Tamatoa (Jermaine Clements) stand against her; but, even with assistance from the ocean and Maui, what really carries Moana is her own determination. In the end, Moana is about that determination to know how far we’ll go for those we love.
Wrapped in beautiful songs from the anthemic ‘How Far I’ll Go’ to confident ‘You’re Welcome’ by Dwayne Johnson to ‘Shiny’, the journey goes further than its traditional property. Those songs are juxtaposing perfectly into the storyline as they conveys audiences about the message Moana attempts to deliver. Harmonizing cultural traits and sense of Disney pop, those songs shows Disney maturation in, even, producing ageless soundtracks for their films.
After all, Moana proves to be an answer to commentary about sexism in Disney Princesses, but further, it also delivers a much stronger empowerment message. Fueled by electric chemistry by Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson, Moana sails accross the sea of excitement.
Animation, Adventure, Music, Fantasy, Comedy Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker Written by: Jared Bush (screenplay), Chris Williams, Don Hall et al Voiced by: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Jemaine Clement, Temuera Morrison Runtime: 103 mins Rated PG