‘MOANA’ (2016) MOVIE REVIEW – Walt Disney Animation Studios….. Need I Say More?

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From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes ‘Moana’, a film about a teenager named Moana who sets sail in search of an ancient demigod named Maui (Dwayne Johnson) who she will team up with to restore life to the world in what is an action packed adventure filled with humour and a lot of heart. Disney strikes again with this film which features beautifully stunning character animation so good it even gives the ocean a personality. The music by Lin-Manuel Miranda incorporated into the film is very catchy, upbeat, and fit with the tone of the film and emotional status of the characters. It is a very heartfelt story involving elements of family, strength, following your dreams, inner-discovery, and focuses on very loveable and entertaining characters that give the whole family something to enjoy. Story-wise the film is very compelling, not predictable in terms of the places it goes, and is an overall very fun and mostly consistent ride.

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The story focuses on Moana, the title character who is a very determined and strong minded female who you instantly fall in love with as the film takes you through her early childhood and you learn about what makes he who she is and where her very individual curiosities lie. She is a character who you get to see develop over the course of the film in some very interesting ways and as she learns more about herself you learn more about her and it only strengthens that character bond. The girl who was chosen to play the voice of Moana was no doubt the perfect choice for the role. Auli’i Cravalho plays the voice of Moana in her first ever acting role and she added so much charisma, humour, and personality to Moana that she not only plays against ‘The Rock’ very well she even overshadows him in many of their scenes together. She nailed every line in the film very convincingly except maybe 1 line that she overcommitted to a little but hey, for a first timer she absolutely nailed it so full credit to her. The Rock plays Maui in this film and his loveable charismatic personality is perfectly executed and represented in his character’s animation.

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Overall the film follows a fairly familiar formula in terms of where you begin and where you end in the story but it does have some surprises woven in to the film and takes some turns i honestly didn’t see coming. There were very humorous moments most of which came from the interactions and chemistry between Moana and Maui whose back and forth conversations when they clash with each other made for very entertaining scenes. There is kid friendly humour weaved into the film of course with a ‘dumb’ bird that accompanies Moana on her journey and some of it did make me laugh so it worked in amusing the intended audience. I will say that the only slightly negative thing i could pick out about this film is that a little over the half way mark there is a brief 10 minute period where it slows down slightly and until it picks up the pace again it was a little meh, but thankfully it was short-lived.

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A more personal gripe that i had is with the rules they set for the level of help the ocean provides for Moana. I mean we see the ocean assisting Moana in the trailer and in various points of the film but there are some times where the help would have come in very helpful but doesn’t show up at all. Just a silly thing i noticed but besides that it was a great film. There are many elements of the film that kids will enjoy and there’s also plenty of enjoyment for adults, so it’s perfect for the whole family. It isn’t the best animated film of the year but it is definitely a very strong entry from Disney and is their best animated film this year.

8.4/10

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