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Review: Moana

Moana
11.22.2016
7 10

Moana movie review Disney Dwayne Johnson Lin Manuel Miranda

PLOT: A teenage Polynesian girl teams with a cocky demi-god in order to fulfill her destiny as the savior of her tribe.

REVIEW: It can be argued that the domination of Pixar over the past two decades in the animation (and just pure storytelling) field has spurred Walt Disney Animation Studios to step up their game in a major way these last few years. THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, TANGLED, WRECK-IT RALPH, FROZEN, ZOOTOPIA (and to perhaps a lesser extent, BIG HERO 6) have all been vivid, clever adventures with equal amounts genuine heart and visual pizzaz that can stand toe-to-toe with most of Pixar's output during the same time. Now along comes MOANA, which is quite a traditional Disney tale from the old school, its hero's journey a reliable one, but with such beautiful imagery that you're willing to forgive it for its somewhat routine narrative. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who bring the same sturdy focus they brought to THE LITTLE MERMAID and ALADDIN, MOANA will delight your eyes and bring a smile to your face. It'll also tickle your ears frequently, thanks to a few terrific songs courtesy of HAMILTON maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda.

MOANA is a colorful spin on the Disney princess model, giving the audience a bit of diversity in the form of the titular character (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho), the 16-year-old daughter of the head of a Polynesian tribe whose birthright it is to be leader of her village one day. In true Disney fashion, the young girl is plucky and resourceful, having reverence for her family and people but also possessed by the spirit of adventure. No one leaves Moana's island, thanks to strict rules laid down by the chief (Temuera Morrison), but Moana can't help but wonder what's on the other side of the reef that surrounds the land. (It helps that her eccentric grandmother goads her on.) When the village's resources start to dry up, Moana takes it upon herself to set sail in search of Maui, a rascally demi-god who holds the key to saving Moana's people and home.

Moana movie review Disney Dwayne Johnson Lin Manuel Miranda

Maui, you probably heard, is voiced by Dwayne Johnson, and it's a great bit of casting as the actor's larger-than-life persona fits perfectly with Maui, an egotistical alpha-male who quickly captures our hearts with "You're Welcome," a terrific number where he mansplains to Moana how he helped create the Earth she knows today. Maui and Moana end up being, of course, a capable team; when they're not squabbling, they're having to work together to avoid pirates (an excellent sequence that must have been at least partially inspired by MAD MAX: FURY ROAD) and escape the literal clutches of one-time Maui ally Tamatoa, a giant crab with a nasty vanity complex. (Tamatoa is voiced by Jemaine Clement, who has another of movie's killer songs, "Shiny," in which he pompously boasts about his jewel-encrusted shell.) Ultimately, the duo will have to face off against a massive lava monster (one of the film's many visual marvels), one that Maui has already failed to defeat.

The partnership between Moana and Maui is significant because, for once, Disney hasn't given their princess a rudimentary love interest to spar with. MOANA is more about the young girl's strength and resilience, and though she needs Maui's assistance, she's just as important to him as he is to her. The beats of the adventure are a bit more routine. There's nothing very innovative about Moana's overall arc; the story moves along in completely predictable fashion. Nothing so wrong with that - there's something comforting about a fable we can wholly rely upon - but in the face of excitingly fresh movies like WRECK-IT RALPH and ZOOTOPIA, MOANA feels a bit ordinary strictly from a screenplay standpoint, despite its feminist streak.

Moana movie review Disney Dwayne Johnson Lin Manuel Miranda

But at the end of the day its tough to complain about a movie that is largely so joyous. As can be counted upon, the animation is topnotch. (It's kind of silly to be wowed by animated water, but damn, even that's impressive to look at.) And while it's not as funny as Disney Animation's best recent work, there's a cute, likable and generally harmless attitude to the humor that ensures it'll get laughs from the kids, if only providing smiles to the adults. (The film's sidekicks are an impossibly dumb chicken and the sea itself, which often takes shape in order to help out Moana.) Like a comfy old blanket, MOANA is reassuring and snug and sure to make you feel warm. Now excuse me while I listen to the soundtrack again.

 

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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8:40PM on 12/13/2016

Good fun, nothing more

Entertaining and good overall, with a fantastic score. It didn't feel as deep as Disney's more recent output Zootopia, but it hits all the right notes. Not sure if it's better than Frozen, but as much as Frozen was grounded into our eardrums for the past two years, I'd rather listen to this soundtrack over hearing Let It Go ever again.
Entertaining and good overall, with a fantastic score. It didn't feel as deep as Disney's more recent output Zootopia, but it hits all the right notes. Not sure if it's better than Frozen, but as much as Frozen was grounded into our eardrums for the past two years, I'd rather listen to this soundtrack over hearing Let It Go ever again.
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9:26PM on 11/23/2016
Looks fun. But I think that is clearly a dumb rooster in the movie not a chicken.
Looks fun. But I think that is clearly a dumb rooster in the movie not a chicken.
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10:59PM on 11/22/2016

Thanks for the review!

Seeing it tomorrow. I'm pretty confident I'll love it as that comfy old blanket feeling sounds great to me. :)
Seeing it tomorrow. I'm pretty confident I'll love it as that comfy old blanket feeling sounds great to me. :)
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6:50PM on 11/22/2016

Another mediocre kids movie that's going to be loved by millennials

If you are like me, have a full time job and a mortgage, you probably won't like this movie. If you live with your parents, then you will love this like every other crappy Disney or Pixar film.
If you are like me, have a full time job and a mortgage, you probably won't like this movie. If you live with your parents, then you will love this like every other crappy Disney or Pixar film.
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7:26PM on 11/22/2016
The reasons you gave for liking it or not have nothing to do with liking a movie or not...Your reasoning is beyond stupid.
The reasons you gave for liking it or not have nothing to do with liking a movie or not...Your reasoning is beyond stupid.
10:55PM on 11/22/2016
It's a shame some lose their inner child. There's a difference between possessing an inner child and being childish. Loving Disney at any age would be one example of having an inner child.

Your comment would be an example of being childish.
It's a shame some lose their inner child. There's a difference between possessing an inner child and being childish. Loving Disney at any age would be one example of having an inner child.

Your comment would be an example of being childish.
2:59PM on 11/22/2016

Huh?

Has this reviewer ever seen another Disney movie? The first time a princess doesnt have a love interest?

Did you not see Frozen? Elsa has no love interest. Did you not see Brave? Merida had no love interest as well.

Using Google must be hard.
Has this reviewer ever seen another Disney movie? The first time a princess doesnt have a love interest?

Did you not see Frozen? Elsa has no love interest. Did you not see Brave? Merida had no love interest as well.

Using Google must be hard.
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3:10PM on 11/22/2016
The reviewer might be wrong, but if you're bashing what he said, you should quote his entire sentence because it does make what he said mean something different and it doesn't exactly mean what you said in your reply.

You forgot to mention the end of the sentence "The partnership between Moana and Maui is significant because, for once, Disney hasn't given their princess a rudimentary LOVE INTEREST TO SPAR WITH."
The reviewer might be wrong, but if you're bashing what he said, you should quote his entire sentence because it does make what he said mean something different and it doesn't exactly mean what you said in your reply.

You forgot to mention the end of the sentence "The partnership between Moana and Maui is significant because, for once, Disney hasn't given their princess a rudimentary LOVE INTEREST TO SPAR WITH."
5:32PM on 11/22/2016
My statement is still valid. Elsa doesnt spar with a love interest, nor does merida spar with a love interest, so again statement is valid.
My statement is still valid. Elsa doesnt spar with a love interest, nor does merida spar with a love interest, so again statement is valid.
5:32PM on 11/22/2016
My statement is still valid. Elsa doesnt spar with a love interest, nor does merida spar with a love interest, so again statement is valid.
My statement is still valid. Elsa doesnt spar with a love interest, nor does merida spar with a love interest, so again statement is valid.
6:26PM on 11/22/2016
"Did you not see Frozen? Elsa has no love interest."

Elsa also wasn't the main character of the story.....

"Did you not see Brave? Merida had no love interest as well."

Brave was a Pixar movie. Not 100% Disney like this one.

Also other sites are saying the same thing about this movie that Eric Walkuski said...So in the end your statement was wrong.
"Did you not see Frozen? Elsa has no love interest."

Elsa also wasn't the main character of the story.....

"Did you not see Brave? Merida had no love interest as well."

Brave was a Pixar movie. Not 100% Disney like this one.

Also other sites are saying the same thing about this movie that Eric Walkuski said...So in the end your statement was wrong.
12:03AM on 11/24/2016
Hello?..."Did you not see Frozen? Elsa has no love interest."

Elsa also wasn't the main character of the story.....

"Did you not see Brave? Merida had no love interest as well."

Brave was a Pixar movie. Not 100% Disney like this one.

Also other sites are saying the same thing about this movie that Eric Walkuski said...So in the end your statement was wrong.
Hello?..."Did you not see Frozen? Elsa has no love interest."

Elsa also wasn't the main character of the story.....

"Did you not see Brave? Merida had no love interest as well."

Brave was a Pixar movie. Not 100% Disney like this one.

Also other sites are saying the same thing about this movie that Eric Walkuski said...So in the end your statement was wrong.
1:46PM on 11/24/2016
Gotta go with Bob_Loblaw. Anna definitely had a love interest.
Gotta go with Bob_Loblaw. Anna definitely had a love interest.
6:02PM on 11/26/2016
I doubt sergeantsnugglez will reply, HoyleHaw.
I doubt sergeantsnugglez will reply, HoyleHaw.
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