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Disney's Moana

Opening Date
24 Nov 2016
114 mins
English with Chinese subtitles
Adventure, Animation, Comedy
Ron Clements, John Musker
Auli‘i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Temuera Morrison, Rachel House, Nicole Scherzinger, Jemaine Clement, Alan Tudyk
"Disney's Moana" introduces a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to fulfill her ancestors' unfinished quest. She meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui, and together, they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage.
By Yian Lu  16 Nov 2016
Set sail on an adventure with Moana, as she travels across the ocean and teams up with Maui, shapeshifter, demi-god of the wind and sea, hero of man…and women. Disney’s Moana is bound to make you laugh and make you learn a little something about dreams and nature.
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Yet another wonderful animation and another theme song — How Far I’ll Go — to put on repeat is Disney’s Moana. Voiced by the 15-year-old cheerful Auli’i Cravalho, Moana is the new Disney princess who goes on an ocean adventure with the demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson).

The Good
The adventure begins from the conflict Moana has between doing what is right, what her people expects of her, to be their leader, and doing what she really wants, listening to the ocean calling her, to sail out and explore beyond the reef. Obviously, she chose the latter and that did not come easy. She faced multiple challenges along the way, going through the ups and downs of following your dreams and striving for your goals. It is this depiction of trying and failing and trying again that will win the hearts of many, especially those who are on their way to achieving something right now.

The narrative is backed with songs with a tropical touch, something distinct from your usual animated musical films. More notably are the songs How Far I’ll Go by Moana and You’re Welcome by Maui. (Who knew The Rock could sing so well!?) Just by looking at the lyrics for How Far I’ll Go, you can feel the princess’ troubles, her burning desire to go on a voyage.

The ending was unexpected with an interesting take on nature. If you think about it, lush green and ash black (in the movie context) are actually the same thing, at least fundamentally.

And…the most humorous character award goes to…Heihei the chicken! Despite being the animal sidekick, Heihei’s comedic dim-witted appearance is one not to be missed. Heihei can definitely make you laugh to your heart’s content! To think that this character was almost removed from the movie… Before the makeover that is; it is originally intelligent.

The (Not That) Bad
Most of us would have expected Pua the pig to participate in Moana’s journey. But unfortunately, the pig remains on the island. It would be nice to see Pua playing a bigger role.

One of the challenges Moana and Maui faced, also featured in the trailer, are the Kakamoras. They are the cute-looking coconuts marked with fierce drawings on their faces. But, still cute. The only thing not cute is their limited screen time. They put up a good fight though.

And The Summary
Set sail on an adventure with Moana, as she travels across the ocean and teams up with Maui, shapeshifter, demi-god of the wind and sea, hero of man…and women. Disney’s Moana is bound to make you laugh and make you learn a little something about dreams and nature.

P.S. Don't miss the after-credits scene with a funny reference to The Little Mermaid.
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By Freddy  15 Nov 2016
On top of its impressive visual feats, Disney’s Moana has a solid original story, strong leads, enjoyable music, and a good sense of humour that will entertain everyone.
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Those who have been looking forward to Disney’s next animated musical feature after Frozen would be pleased with Disney’s Moana. With an original story and a mystical tropical setting, it feels distinct from Disney’s recent efforts. This splash of fresh air might just be what the fans need.

The main theme of Moana is the conflict between tradition and inner calling. While the open sea calls out to her, nobody goes beyond the reef. Moreover, as the only child of the chief, Moana is expected to succeed him to lead the people of her home island, Motunui. This inner conflict between what you are expected to be and who you want to be is something that a lot of people would find relatable in this coming-of-age story. Nothing new, but I feel that it is well-executed here.

The film finds strong leads in both Moana and Maui. The newcomer Auli’i Cravalho plays Moana with a good combination of youthful energy and passion. She also skillfully portrays Moana’s vulnerability and confusion on her place and identity in the world. Dwayne Johnson is funny, confident, and larger-than-life as the demigod Maui. Although Maui is a very interesting character, it never feels like his presence overshadows Moana’s. The pair has a great chemistry in their reluctant but evolving friendship.

Gramma Tala (Rachel House), Moana’s grandmother and the self-proclaimed crazy old lady, is not your typical wise elderly figure. She is an unusual personality whose relationship with Moana is an integral part of the story. Moana’s parents, Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison) and Sina (Nicole Scherzinger) are relegated to supporting roles. They are loving, sometimes overprotective, parents but are rather two-dimensional. Still, it is always nice to have a Disney princess whose parents are both alive and well.

The film has some fresh approaches. Moana has no love interest in the film and no one expects her to. Also, there is not really any overarching villain in the film. The villains are often part of what makes Disney films so great, if we think about Ursula, Jafar, Scar, and many others. Don’t get me wrong, there are bad guys in this film who present obstacles to Moana and Maui in their journey. Nevertheless, the biggest obstacle that the pair has to overcome are often their own self-doubt.

There are some great moral messages to children about respecting your culture and man’s relationship with nature. I like the parallel it draws between wayfinding and discovering your identity. Also, it will definitely spark interest in Polynesian cultures and sailing.

Although the story can get serious and has its fair share of touching moments, Moana does have a great deal of humour, too. The non-speaking roles are an important part of this. Maui’s moving tattoo, the ocean, and Moana’s dumb rooster Heihei are hilarious without having to say a word. The humour is not only reserved for sidekicks, though. Moana and Maui are very funny on their own as well.

I cannot overstate the top-notch animation standard that Disney has set here. The film always looks visually stunning, with photorealistic shores, lifelike water, and flowing curly hair. The colourful landscapes of Motunui and the shimmering ocean would make you want to go on a beach holiday.

As Moana is a musical, the music can make or break the experience. There are definitely some memorable tunes in the film, especially “How Far I’ll Go” sung by Moana and “You’re Welcome” sung by Maui. Other songs are unfortunately forgettable, although the songs and the score do transport the audience to the tropical Polynesian setting.

Moana is an enjoyable and refreshing entry in Disney’s pantheon of animated musical features. Its strength lies in concocting just the right combination of action, drama, fantasy, and comedy in a great-looking package. It is by no means perfect and does get somewhat formulaic, but it has enough heart to remain engaging. It also successfully ensures that its moral messages are prominent enough not to be drowned by theatrics and visual feats.

Don’t rush out of the cinema when the credit rolls. Besides being able to listen to the pop covers of “How Far I’ll Go” and “You’re Welcome”, there is a little something after the credits.
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Trailers / Videos
Contest Trailer
Featurette: "The Way To Moana"

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