Movie Review: Moana (2016)

Moana, released in 2016, is a Disney animated adventure musical, and the 56th in the Disney Animared feature film series. Moana (Auli’i Cravalho, in her acting debut) is the daughter of the chief of the island Motonui, who must travel across the ocean to find the demigod and thief Maui (Dwayne Johnson), and return the heart of the goddess Te Fiti in order to save her island.

+ the film is overall quite funny. Lots of sight gags, particularly on Maui’s tattoos and an incredibly dumb chicken made for a never tiring stream of chuckles. When the time was right, however, the movie was able to get very emotional as well
+ the environment design is gorgeous. The swaying trees, flowing rivers and things such as the way a character’s hair moves are beautiful to behold
+ very fluid animations, especially on all of the dancing movements. No surprise that the ocean itself is a secondary character, and shows so much emotion just from it’s movement
+ two of the songs, Maui’s “You’re Welcome” and a villain(ish) song from Jermaine Clement’s Tamatoa (“Shiny”), were standouts for me, which is at least one more song than Frozen had going for it

The pig is adorable, and the chicken is so dumb it’s funny. Unfortunately, only one of them sticks around for the whole movie.

– it just takes far too long for the plot to kick off. Specifically, with as minimal spoilers as I can, it was not until nearly an hour into the 100ish minute runtime that the two protagonists actually decide to work together
– despite the environment looking so nice, the character models themselves are severely underwhelming. The best way I can think to describe it is they are too “smooth”, like the first Ice Age movie. And since we are talking a dozen-plus year gap between films, that is not a good comparison
– aside from the two songs mentioned above, no others did anything for me. I didn’t find them as catchy or fun to sing as Frozen‘s “Let it Go”, or anything from Tangled
– I was sorely disappointed the pig from the trailers and poster was not a more major character. I love pigs, and I was hoping the pig would be the ‘straight-man’ to the dumb chicken

> as someone who has listened to The Rock talking for the last fifteen-plus something years, this was very much Dwayne Johnson, not The Rock. The very vast majority of the film did not have his signature swagger on show

Should you see this film: I did not like this nearly as much as I did Tangled, and both have a somewhat related plot, with a non-princess teaming with a lovable scamp to return a prized artifact. Only having two memorable songs was disappointing, but the laughs provided and gorgeous environments are enough to warrant at least one viewing.



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