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: Rules Don’t Apply Trailer, Doctor Strange, More!

Lots of film-related goodness this week, including the new Rules Don’t Apply trailer, Hacksaw Ridge, Doctor Strange and more…

Rules Don’t Apply Trailer

Here is the latest Rules Don’t Apply trailer. The film is directed by Warren Beatty, who stars as Howard Hughes. The film is about a relationship between Hughes’ driver (played by Alden Ehrenreich) and an aspiring young actress (played by Lily Collins). Rules Don’t Apply is one of a number of recent films set in Hollywood’s Golden Age, following Café Society and  Hail, Caesar!. Beatty’s film is scheduled for release soon.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Trailer

Here is the new trailer for action-thriller Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. The film is a follow up to 2012’s Jack Reacher. This instalment sees To Cruise return as the title character. I am hoping that filmmakers keep the same tone as the original film, even if there is no Werner Herzog. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back hits cinema and IMAX screens on 20th October 2016.

Doctor Strange Poster

Doctor Strange Poster

Here is one of the Doctor Strange character posters. Tilda Swinton joins a stellar cast (Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Womg, and Mads Mikkelsen) in Marvel’s latest film. Cumberbatch stars as Dr Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who sets out to repair himself following an accident. Doctor Strange is out in UK cinemas on 25th October 2016.

Moana Featurette

Here is Moana star Dwayne Johnson and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda talk about mutual love and respect in this new featurette. The film is about a teenager who sets out on a mission to complete her ancestors’ unfulfilled quest. Moana will be released in UK cinemas on 2nd December 2016.

Fences Trailer

Denzel Washington directs Fences, based on August Wilson’s award-winning play. Wilson also writes the screenplay for the film, which is about a man struggling to raise his family in the 1950s. Also starring the brilliant Viola Davis, Fences is set for release soon.

20th Century Women Trailer

Writer-director Mike Mills follows 2011’s Beginners with 20th Century Women. The film is about three women at different eras of the 20th century. Starring Annette Benning, Greta Gerwig, and Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women will be released in 2017.

Hacksaw Ridge Trailer

Mel Gibson directs war drama Hacksaw Ridge. The film is about the true story of Desmond Doss, a soldier during World War II who saved many of his compatriots without firing a weapon. Starring Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, and Teresa Palmer, Hacksaw Ridge will be released in cinemas soon.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Trailer

Here is the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film is based on the magical world created by J.K. Rowling. Starring Eddie Redmayne, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out in 3D on 18th November 2016.

Previews: Rules Don’t Apply Trailer, Morgan and More!

Lots of trailers, posters and clips this week, including the Rules Don’t Apply trailer, a clip from Morgan, Same Kind of Different trailer and more…

Rules Don’t Apply Trailer

Here is the Rules Don’t Apply Trailer. Warren Beatty writes, directs, and stars in the Golden Era-set film. With Alden Ehrenreich in the cast, the film is instantly reminiscent of this year’s Hail, Cesar!. Ehrenreich stars as the driver to Beatty’s Howard Hughes. The film features a stellar cast, that includes Lily Collins, Alec Baldwin, and Matthew Broderick. Rules Don’t Apply is coming soon to cinemas.

Morgan Clip

This clip from the upcoming Morgan gives a bit of insight into the title character. The film stars Kate Mara as a troubleshooter sent to a remote location to investigate an accident. Also starring Paul Giamatti and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the film is produced by Ridley Scott. Morgan is out in UK cinemas on 2nd September 2016.

Arrival Poster

Arrival PosterThis is one of a series of posters for new ski-fi thriller Arrival. The film is about a mystery spacecraft that arrives on Earth, and the team who are sent to investigate. Denis Villeneuve directs the film, which stars Amy Adams, Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner. Arrival lands in UK cinemas on 11th November 2016.

War on Everyone Trailer

The Guard director John Michael McDonagh’s latest film combines dark humour with a buddy cop movie. War on Everyone stars Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña as New Mexican cops who set out to blackmail every criminal that crosses their paths. War on Everyone will hit UK screens on 7th October 2016.

Moana Trailer

Disney latest animation Moana is about a South Pacific teenager who sails on a daring mission to save her people. The film features the voice of Dwayne Johnson, and songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Moana is directed by Disney dream-team Ron Clements and John Musker. UK cinemagoers will have to wait until 2nd December 2016 to see if the pair can recreate their earlier magic.

Hell or High Water Trailer

Hell or High Water is a new crime thriller from the writer of Sicario, Taylor Sheridan.  The film stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as robbers who meet their match in Texas Ranger Jeff Bridges. Hell or High Water hits UK screens on 9th September 2016.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Poster

Miss Peregrine Poster

This poster is a visual feast. Director Tim Burton always delivers on the imagery front. Based on the book by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children looks like it will be weird and wonderful. Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield and Samuel L. Jackson, the film will be released in UK cinemas on 30th September 2016.

Same Kind of Different as Me Trailer

Uncomfortably reminiscent of The Blind Side, Same Kind of Different as Me is based on the book of the same name. The film stars Renée Zellweger and Greg Kinnear as a couple who befriend a homeless man (played by Djimon Hounsou). Some of what is shown seems risible, but the film will probably appeal to fans of the book. Same Kind of Different as Me is set for release in 2017.