Once upon a time, in an island surrounded by, uhm, the vast ocean, there lived a girl who dreamt of sailing to the line where the sky meets the sea. And yes, the ocean indeed called her!
Moana, Disney’s new animated offering, brings us to the islands of the South Pacific. The titular character, the daughter of an island chieftain who is reluctant to let his daughter sail out to the ocean, goes on a mission to search the demigod Maui and return the “heart” of the goddess Te Fiti in order to save her home island from destruction.
With the ocean magically guiding her voyage and helping her convince Maui to return the heart (he actually took away), Moana gets herself on a crazy adventure. Of course, that includes facing the “evil” creatures along the way, and getting used to Maui’s proud behavior. Despite doubting herself after a setback, Moana pushes forward, gets the job done, and in true Disney fashion, happy ending!
The story is like every Disney movie, but the bulk of what sets it apart is Moana herself – she may be as curious as most progressive Disney princesses, but her passion entirely has pushed her to grow as a person. “Knowing who you are” is sure to resonate to everyone out there. Also, she has no love interest to deal with (well, so is Elsa), and with her realistic appearance, looks way different from most princesses. Maui isn’t Prince Charming at all, but like Moana, is someone who continuously seeks about himself even if he brags a lot about himself.
There may be other subplots that could have been expanded, but the movie held its own, given how the other characters are well-woven into the story. Other standout characters for me aside from Moana and Maui include the encouraging Grandma Tala (watch out her transformation!), the coconut crab Tamatoa, and Heihei the chicken, who still has to “know who he is”.
The voice acting is really good, newcomer Auli’i Cravalho has done a good job on her debut feature as Moana, as well as Dwayne Johnson as Maui, now one of the most charismatic Disney strongmen ever. And the animation is just jaw dropping – how the ocean “moves” is so refreshing to see.
Let’s not forget the music! The Polynesian-inspired songs and score (from the team that includes Lin-Manuel Miranda) are fun, catchy and inspiring. A standout for me has to be the psychedelic Shiny, but the banner Disney song How Far I’ll Go is definitely an earworm.
Moana is a movie sure to put a smile on your face like how a typical Disney movie does, but can also add more fuel to your already burning passion and to your vehicle towards self-discovery. Go #FindYourWay!
(Special thanks to PinoyExchange.com c/o Carl for the opportunity to see the movie.)