Moana (2016) Review

Moana Review

Disney’s new golden age shows no signs of slowing down as they cap an amazing animated year with the breezy, tropical feel good musical “Moana”.

Drawing on Polynesian mythology, “Moana” tells the story of a young girl who longs to leave her island and explore the oceans. Encouraged by her maternal grandmother, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) finds herself on a perilous quest to find the demi-God Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and with his help, restore the Heart of Te Fiti and turn back the darkness which threatens to engulf their island home.

In a year which has seen a continued shift in favour of strong female protagonists, Moana is headstrong, capable and compassionate; a welcome addition to the Disney princess pantheon. The film represents the first computer animated feature film for directors Ron Clements and John Musker (veterans of “The Great Mouse Detective”, “Aladdin” and “The Princess And The Frog” amongst others) but the move to CGI loses none of the magic and warmth of their previous works. Coupled with a tropically infused score and some catchy numbers (who knew Dwayne Johnson could carry off a showstopper?), “Moana” harks back to the pair’s other underwater triumph, “The Little Mermaid”.

In a world as divided and dominated by narrow opinions and prejudices, “Moana” is a visually spectacular and defiantly diverse piece of storytelling. Trapped in something of a no-win situation – accused of a lack of diversity when they do something like this they’re accused of cultural appropriation – Disney have delivered a rousing, inspirational and uplifting adventure that respects and honours Polynesian mythology, bringing it to a wider audience to appreciate. It’s become an instantly family favourite in the Craggus household and its soundtrack is vying for ‘soundtrack of the year’ with fellow colourful and optimistic animation “Trolls”. It may have been something of a mediocre year for movies in general, but animation’s had a pretty good 2016 and “Moana” is the perfect note to end on.