Monday, November 28, 2016

Movie Review: Moana

I grew up watching Disney movies, I was obsessed with "The Little Mermaid", "Aladin", "Beauty and the Beast", "Mulan", you name it.  I grew up watching these films, memorizing the lines and songs, having all kinds of merchandise from lunchboxes, sleeping bags. I can also break out into song from any of these films (with hand gestures) much to the discomfort of my office seat mate. 

So you can say that with Disney such a big part of my life, I was excited to meet a new Disney Princess and this is "Moana". Which is refreshing as the 56th Disney animated feature film based on an original idea about Moana Waialiki (Auli'i Cravalho), the daughter of a Village Chief from a Polynesian tribe, who sets out with the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) to save her home. 

The film starts out with similar Disney themes, Moana is too adventurous for her island, where the people are forbidden to sail beyond the reef. Just like Ariel (The Little Mermaid) before her, who was curious about the humans on the shore. The heroine's first hurdle is to listen to that "voice inside" who is telling her who she really is. In Moana's case, she is to inherit being village chief and the responsibilities that come with it, when all she really wants is to sail out into the ocean. 

As I was watching the film, I thought of this recurring theme which has been the same throughout the years and I felt that it was because there is always a new generation of children who can definitely use this empowering messaging and I'm glad that I got to see the film with two of my nieces. :) 

While the film may begin with these timeless themes, which is no surprise given that Ron Clements and John Musker, the directing team behind Oscar-winning classics The Little Mermaid and Aladdin are behind the film.

 "Moana" takes on its own adventure and for me the film takes on its own feel from that scene when they meet the "Kakamora", for a little added information, that scene which includes these cute-err-terrifying coconuts is actually inspired from Mad Max: Fury Road and I actually thought of it when I saw it, without knowing about it first.  Also one of the Kakamora has the face of Baymax (Big Hero 6) painted on it. (I want a Kakamora!) 

Oh and I also have to commend the music! For the longest time, I have been looking for memorable songs in the recent Disney films but they didn't seem to have that "magic" like the old films did but "Moana" did and with a team made up of “Hamilton” composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, Disney music master Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa’i, the lead singer of South Pacific fusion band Te Vaka, I was had high expectations which is met. The result is a fun, authentic soundtrack, which will be your newest last song syndrome.   

I'll go ahead and say it "Let It Go" (Frozen) was overrated but in "Moana" it's not only the heroine's song which is memorable but all of the songs! (I kid you not) I was even impressed by Dwayne Johnson's Maui's catchy "You're Welcome" song, "The Rock" had an amazing singing voice (who would have thought right?) and we also enjoyed Tamatoa (Jemaine Clement) Prince inspired "Shiny". The songs reminded me of the older Disney movies where all the songs were good.

 *Currently listening to the soundtrack as I am writing this* 

There is a scene in the film that made me go "Whoah!" (I never thought I'd have that reaction in a Disney movie) and this was when Moana comes face to face with Te Ka, it is a breathtaking moment and seeing that in 3D is just spectacular. 

10/10! (My Nieces gave perfect scores too! And yes, even Paul gave a perfect score! Which is as rare as it sounds.) 

I also personally enjoyed making jokes at Disney's own expense: 

Case in point: 

On top of a high mountain, Maui tells Moana: "If you start singing, I'm going to throw up." This of course is a shot at Disney Princesses bursting into song. 

Disney has even starting making pee jokes and that was just hilarious! 

A fresh new Disney adventure featuring stunning 3D animation (just makes you want to go to the Beach) the story, while maintaining classic themes finds its own lessons to share. Plus a colorful look into the Polynesian culture, which is always a plus for me. 

Moana is the Disney Princess for a new generation. Without an exaggerated tiny waistline, the studio finally leaves the 'love interest' plot behind, focusing on a more important adventure, well for a young wayfinder at least. 

*By the way, there's a post-credits scene, if you guys want to stick around for that*


At the Philippine Premiere of "Moana" with my nieces Jasmine and Jillian. 
I rarely post personal photos with my movie reviews but I think I will make an exception for this one. Moana is in cinemas Nov. 30. 

Use the hashtags #MoanaPH #FindYourWay for your Moana posts!

 Photos (c) Walt Disney Studios. 

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