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.

Previews: Allied Trailer, John Wick: Chapter Two, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions including the Allied trailer, Moana, John Wick: Chapter Two and more…

Allied Trailer

Brad Pitt has dominated the entertainment news this week, so in good timing the Allied trailer dropped. The film stars Pitt as an intelligence officer who encounters Marion Cotillard’s Resistance fighter. Set in 1942, the film is directed by Robert Zemeckis. Allied will hit UK screens on 25th November 2016.

Moana Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for Disney’s Moana. It is Disney’s first film set in the South Pacific. Moana will be the first mainly CGI-animated movie from directors Ron Clements and John Musker. Moana is set for release in UK cinemas on 2nd December 2016.

John Wick: Chapter Two Poster

John Wick Chapter Two

Here is the first look at John Wick: Chapter Two. The film is a follow up to 2014’s John Wick.  The hitman is forced out retirement by a former associate in this sequel. Starring Keanu Reeves, John Wick: Chapter Two is scheduled for release on 17th February 2017.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Featurette

This featurette for Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children focuses on the vision of director Tim Burton. Stars Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench and others talk about working with the director on this film. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is out in UK cinemas on 29th September 2016.

Passengers Trailer

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in sci-fi thriller Passengers. By slightly more important than them, there are robots in this film. Passengers is about two passengers being transported to another planet on a spaceship. The film will be released in UK cinemas on 21st December 2016.

Annabelle 2 Teaser Trailer

This teaser trailer, or trailer announcement trailer, for Annabelle 2 does not reveal much, except for the creepiest doll ever. The film is about the doll-maker who is responsible for the monstrous creation, with a nun and some orphans thrown in for good measure. Horror sequel Annabelle 2 will hit UK screens in May 2017.

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.