Disney is currently on a roll, since Pixar’s John Lasseter influence has taken hold, the Mouse Kingdom is churning out the animated hits.
Scouring the globe for a different perspective, Disney have alighted on the Pacific Islands, bringing together an amalgam of Polynesian legends and folklore in a family friendly package.
Following a beautifully animated establishing montage explaining Maui legend, we are introduced to “Moana” Auli’i Cravalho (Voice). Moana is the daughter of the tribal chief and destined to lead the village in the future.
Unfortunately even at a young age, Moana is drawn to the sea and despite sailing beyond the reef is strictly forbidden by her father, she yearns for adventure.
As Moana matures the pull of the sea grows stronger, encouraged by her wise old grandmother. The villagers were not always so fearful, in the past they ventured far and wide in sturdy ocean going vessels.
Over time Moana gets to take more decisions for the village. However, as resources start to run short, fish are no longer plentiful and darkness falls upon the land, it is obvious being timid no longer provides for the village’s needs.
Casting off into the wide blue yonder, Moana clutching her mythical green stone, will search for “Maui” Dwayne Johnson who stole the heart of “Te Fiti” and unleashed the darkness.
Muai possesses a magical fish hook which will provide enough power to defeat “Te Ka” and restore order to the world.
However as with any animated cartoons, the path to success is littered with obstacles to overcome. Moana follows the recent embracement of female empowerment in films, consistently giving as good as she gets. Despite the fact she is swapping wisecracks with a tattooed god, she has the sea on her side. Push her off the boat, the sea gently places her back on board, then repeat as required.
Also she has a crazy chicken on her side, a long running but consistently funny comic sidekick.
As you would expect the animation is superb, water effects notably nailed for good. There is clearly considerable love and attention bestowed on the film, way beyond that necessary to please the rug rats.
Not being an expert on Polynesians myths, this reviewer will make no attempt to vouch for authenticity of the stories. The screenplay and legend appears to be a blend of tales, that hopefully will offend no one and please most.
Johnson (or “The Rock”) appears to be having fun, always willing and able to send his image up, even when just on voice duties. The moving tattoo on his cartoon body are a novel touch as they add to the story.
Like the recent live action “Beauty and The Beast”, this is hard to materially fault. Arguably lacking the emotional wallop of some Pixar films but for this genre of movie, this is as good as it gets.
First class family entertainment, yes there are songs but not too intrusive and in keeping with the spirit of the film.
Beautifully animated and a pleasure to watch, kids have it pretty good these days. In my day……..