A chosen one, a quest or journey of some kind, an animal sidekick, and some musical bits are the ingredients for your typical Disney flick, right? “Moana” follows the recipe, but still manages to taste fresh.
Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) hopes to follow her father, Chief Tui’s footsteps to become chief (voice of Temuera Morrison). But her Gramma Tala’s ancestral stories (voice of Rachel House) drives Moana to sail and explore the big blue sea. Chief Tui forbids Moana from doing this and stresses the importance of taking his place as chief.
As Moana learns her chiefly duties, the villagers notice a shortage of fish. Moana says if they go beyond the reef into the ocean, they can find more fish. Her father is against it. Moana soon learns from Gramma Tala that their ancestors were voyagers, traveling from island to island.
Gramma Tala becomes ill and lies on her deathbed. She tells Moana to search for Demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and make him return a magical stone to an island, so all may be restored.
After constant pleading and persuading, the self-absorbed Maui joins Moana and her nontalking pet chicken Heihei (voice of Alan Tudyk), and have extraordinary adventures across the sea, including run-ins with coconut pirates and a golden crab.
“Moana” had its similarities to “Mulan” and other Disney princesses. Like Mulan, Moana had a strict father that wanted her to follow his orders. She had to stay in her boundaries until something went wrong. Then she stood up and took on the challenging mission, gaining confidence and inner-strength along the way. This movie is motivation for young girls to know and understand that they can do anything, even if others doubt them.
It’s comforting to know that Disney is broadening its horizons to other cultures and heritages. Disney should not stop spinning tales of Pacific Islanders because most people are still unaware of them. A sequel to “Moana” would do nicely, as well as other films with different heroes/heroines.
The musical numbers aren’t completely dreadful. There are some catchy tunes like “You’re Welcome,” sung by The Rock, and “How Far I’ll Go,” sung by Auli’i Cravalho.
“Moana” is an adventure worth taking, with great animation and enjoyable music. But would it have killed anyone to give Heihei some witty lines, though?
Studio: Disney (1hr. 43 min.)
Story: A Chief-In-Waiting must save her home by returning a magical rock to an island, with the help of a shapeshifting demigod.
Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk
Final Score: B+
This review was first published on Blackflix.com