Moana tells the story in Ancient Polynesia when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right.
In more recent years, Disney has failed to provide any decent animations, especially when compared to the insta-classics from the late eighties, throughout the nineties, and in the early 2000s. There have been some really good films such as Big Hero 6, Wreck-It Ralph, Brave, and Tangled in the last five or so years but with this new addition in Moana, it was a decent effort but nothing that could stand up against the rest of their filmography.
One of the major issues with this film is that it seems to fit the mould of many of it’s other films that either did very well because they encompassed other aspects, thus lifting the film overall, and had at least one memorable track on the soundtrack or was just like this outing: a young princess wants to do something her parents don’t want her to do but someone close to her manages to convince her to do it anyway with the help of the funny sidekick that don’t intially get along but bond eventually. There’s a conflict that makes them part ways but the sidekick comes back and everything turns out happily ever after. The parents or parental figure realise they’re wrong and encourage the said princess and protagonist of the film can basically do whatever because they’ve “proved” themselves.
That is essentially the plot of this film despite the research put into this film, which is ultimately appreciated as it helps make the world more believable and interesting, but in the end, it just feels like I’ve seen this hundreds of times before. Moana, like many of disney’s most recent films that have been more for the digital rather then hand drawn approach of it’s predecessors, were visually stunning but that’s all that films seem to be lately. It just seems to be more about the effects and the animals more then anything else — style over substance.
It wasn’t a boring film by any margin but it wasn’t entirely funny as it thought it would be, as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character of Maui makes an almost out of character and taste Twitter joke, and thus heavily relying on the musical numbers that prove to be average at best. They’re hardly catchy, which is very much a shame because amongst the composers was Lin-Manuel Miranda of In The Heights and Hamilton: An American Musical fame, and both those stage musicals are amongst some of my favourites. Maybe I just had my hopes too high after being a fan of Miranda’s and Disney films always having a very good soundtrack to accompany the story.
After all I heard about this film, I had high hopes that were ultimately let down and I shouldn’t be so surprised of late as there’s hardly been a Disney film that’s really stood out. It’s a great film for it’s younger, more intended audience, but for those of us who are children are heart, it fails to deliver.