Moana

"Very Good"

Moana Review


In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent young woman who doesn't follow the rules, doesn't need a man and sings songs of empowerment. But this story is set in the lush South Pacific, with deep blue seas, verdant rainforests and fiery volcanoes. And that gives it a fresh blast of energy and culture that more than makes up for the lack of proper tension in the rather formulaic story.

On a remote island, Moana (voiced by Auli'i Carvalho) is the daughter of the pragmatic chief (Temuera Morrison) and his sensitive wife (Nicole Scherzinger). Feeling like the sea is beckoning her, Moana is always in trouble, because the islanders are terrified of the dangers in the ocean beyond the reef. But Moana's grandmother (Rachel House) encourages her to follow her yearnings, revealing that Moana is the promised one who will travel to find the exiled demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and return the Heart of Te Fiti to its rightful place, restoring life to the islands. Even though she feels inadequate, she heads off on her quest. And when she meets up with the arrogant Maui, she realises that this is going to be even harder than she thought.

Dwayne Johnson voices Maui in Moana

The setting gives the animators plenty of scope to let their imaginations run wild, with gorgeous colours and textures and some marvellously quirky characters. These include Moana's sidekick, a scrawny chicken (clucked by Alan Tudyk) who seems to entirely lack a brain, and a greedy undersea crab (Jemaine Clement). The only misstep visually is the way the spirit of the ocean is rendered as a creepy watery tongue. But the characters are voiced with energy and charm, both in the dialogue and the lively (if not terribly memorable) songs. And the best touch is having Maui's tattoos spring silently to life to re-enact epic myths and offer running comedy commentary.

The movie has a terrific energy to it that drives the story forward, even if there's an obvious sense that we're in safe Disney territory, where no one will ever get hurt. And every action has a moral lesson attached to it that tugs at the heartstrings. We never doubt for a second that Moana and Maui will complete their mission, but at least the story and animation have some lovely surprises in store along the way, especially in the spectacular climactic encounter. It's also a beautiful way to adapt real legends from Polynesian history into an entertaining odyssey.

Watch the trailer for Moana:



Moana

Facts and Figures

Genre: Animation

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 23rd November 2016

Box Office Worldwide: $97.4M

Budget: $150M

Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures

Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 8.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Osnat Shurer

Starring: Auli'i Cravalho as Moana (voice), as Maui (voice), Rachel House as Gramma Tala (voice), as Chief Tui (voice), as Tamatoa (voice), as Sina (voice), as Hei Hei the Rooster (voice), Louise Bush as Young Moana (voice), Christopher Jackson as Tui (singing voice), Oscar Kightley as Fisherman (voice), Troy Polamalu as Villager (voice), Phillipa Soo as (voice)

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