A few years ago Disney’s in-house animation division was playing catch up to Pixar – but now they’re providing their own quality productions that are usurping their sister studios.
Moana rides on a wave of success – headed by the likes of Frozen, Wreck-it Ralph and Zootropolis – from Walt Disney Animation Studios, and is another breathtaking computer-generated spectacle that is simply a cut above everything else in the genre.
Particularly superior to the likes of Pixar’s only passably generic The Good Dinosaur for example.
This is in no small way down to the beautiful tropical backdrop, which sets the scene for the story of Moana (newcomer Auli’i Cravalho), the strong-willed daughter of the chief of a Polynesian tribe (Temuera ‘Jango Fett’ Morrison), who is chosen by the ocean to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess.
Against her father’s wishes, she sets sail with pet rooster Heihei (arguably the dumbest creature to have ever featured in a Disney animation) to find demigod Maui (Johnson), who stole a sacred stone to give to humanity, but when he lost it in a dual with lava demon Te Ka it started a chain reaction that has cursed Moana’s island – and blighted all the food which will eventually lead to starvation.
Refreshingly, when she does come across Maui – the shape-shifting (due to his magical fishhook) legend – Johnson’s character is initially more of an anti-hero as he and Moana lock horns as they scale the ocean bickering about whether they will achieve their goal.
This is the only period of the movie – which is for the most part a real pleasure to watch – in which this tale lulls, because for large swathes the script and interaction between Cravalho and Johnson’s characters is a delightful experience.
And undoubtedly it’s also the only animation to feature a set-piece with evil coconut-inspired creatures who prove to be a tenacious nemesis half-way through.
All-in-all this is another tremendous Disney product that with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on the horizon, following on from Marvel’s recent Dr Strange, further cements the House of Mouse’s place as the elite studio in Hollywood, and with such sensationally crafted products as this, who could argue.
This animated equivalent to Life of Pi is simply a joy to watch . . . if ya’ smell what Disney is cookin’.
Gavin Miller [youtube id=”LKFuXETZUsI” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Voice Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Temuera Morrison, Rachel House, Alan Tudyk, Jemaine Clement & Nicole Scherzinger
Running Time: 1 Hr 43 Mins
Directors: Ron Clements & Don Hall
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