Film Review: Moana

Moana

Directors Ron Clements and John Musker create magic once again with Moana. Seven years after The Princess and the Frog, and 24 years after Aladdin, the duo provide the winning formula for their latest film.

Teenager Moana longs to explore the ocean, but is confined to her birth island by her chief father. However, Moana has been chosen by larger forces to reunite a goddess with a relic. She will need the help of a demigod to complete her mission…

Moana combines all the right ingredients to generate a memorable fantasy adventure. The film recreates a winning formula that was key to some of Disney’s greatest animated films. Nevertheless, the preoccupations have a sufficiently modern edge. In a sense, the film combines the best of the old and the best of the new.

Focusing on the teenage daughter of the of chief (a princess in all but official title), Moana features a quest at the heart of its narrative. The film combines Polynesian mythology with an adventure which has well-paced peaks of tension. The narrative moves at a good pace, introducing characters at good intervals, and allowing for sufficient development for the film’s protagonists.

The title character is suitably strong-willed, yet is endearing enough for viewers to side with her. Moana is very much a modern Disney female protagonist. Taking cues from Brave and Frozen, the protagonist is independent and outspoken. She does not rely on the strength of a man to escape peril, and there is no love interest (so obligatory in the earlier Disney princess films). She is a modern character, and a good role model to children. Maui, similarly, goes through his own personal development through the course of the film.

Songs in Moana, some of which were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, are excellent. They have a show tune quality, which complements the style of the film. The animation is incredibly appealing. Auli’i Carvalho, Dwayne Johnson, and Jermaine Clement are great in their respective roles.

Moana is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure, which should please viewers young and old.

Previews: Beauty and the Beast trailer, Moana, More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions includes the new Beauty and the Beast trailer, plus Live By Night, Moana and more…

Beauty and the Beast Trailer

Here is the first Beauty and the Beast trailer. The first thing that stands out is the accents of the cast; those familiar with the animated classic may find it strange to hear well-known characters with British accents. The second notable thing is how much the sets, props, and costumes resemble the animated film. The film features new songs, as well as the original score. Starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, Beauty and the Beast is set for release on 17th March 2017.

Live By Night Trailer

Ben Affleck directs and stars in Live By Night. The crime thriller is based on the Dennis Lehane novel. From the trailer at least, Affleck seems to emulate the classic Warner Bros gangster movies. Also starring Zoe Saldana and Elle Fanning, Live By Night hits UK screens on 13th January 2017.

Moana Clip

Here is a clip from the upcoming Moana. The film features the voices of Auli’i Carvalho and Dwayne Johnson. It will be interesting to see if directors Ron Clements and John Musker can recapture their earlier magic. Moana launches on to UK screens on 2nd December 2016.

Ghost in the Shell Featurette

Ghost in the Shell is based on the manga series of the same name. This featurette goes behind the scenes on the making of the film, speaking to director Rupert Sanders and others. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Ghost in the Shell is scheduled for release on 31st March 2017.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Trailer

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is the latest film from filmmaker Luc Besson. Benson follows Lucy with another sci-fi film, albeit a futuristic, space-set one. The film stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is out in UK cinemas in Summer 2017.