Moana is definitely a step forward for Walt Disney Animation in creating a female character that doesn’t need a love interest but also feels like a real person overall. The way they developed the character over the film felt very realistic and she seemed complex. It was also a huge positive that this female protagonist, voiced by Auli’i Cravalho, was able to match the level of personality to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and be as vibrant on screen as he is.
The only negatives of the film I had were the songs in the beginning where it felt forced to me personally and that the princess-angle felt superfluous. It doesn’t really define her character, but it is a matter of fact. They didn’t need to develop this check box attitude to the film which this act. It could have been rewritten to where she is a princess but it doesn’t fall into to many stereotypical tropes.
Do you know who Maui is? Only the greatest demi-god of all the Pacific Islands, with his magical fish hook he slowed down the sun, pulled islands out of the sea, battled monsters! And I should know, because I’m Maui
The songs overall I thought were very well done and sure to be catchy for years to come. “You’re Welcome”, “We Know the Way”, and “How Far I’ll Go” were the standouts to me. Lin-Manuel Miranda added his creative angle to the songs which helped create the authenticity to the film’s cultural representation. The one song by Jermaine Clement’s number in the middle of the film was great. As one of the films monster’s he had some great creative lines that pushed the fourth wall breaking.
Moana is a great family film with beautiful animation, great soundtrack and some authentic representation of the Pacific Islander culture. It’s great to see more diversity on screen with great talent across the board. Though this film feels small in scale, I’m glad it didn’t feel like a franchise builder but a contained story that began and ended in one sitting.