“Moana” movie review

I had the honor of seeing “Moana” yesterday with some friends. I’ve been watching the trailers for this movie forever and been waiting for so long. I was expecting to be impressed, just by watching the animation and the clever lines from the trailers, but Disney has outdone itself again with this masterpiece!

First of all, the tone of the movie is a little bit different from the previous Disney Princess movies. Moana’s movie seems a little more self-aware, producing gems like:

“You wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”

“When you write with a bird, it’s called ‘Tweeting’.”

And let’s not forget the songs! “How far I’ll go” is not only inspiring, it’s amazing! Ali’i has an amazing voice that fits Moana’s character and adds a strong element to her character. The first reprise is interesting, because even though Moana is upbeat and hopeful about the adventure and travel, she actually fails terribly to get past the reef. This leads her to question her decision and debate whether she’ll turn to her responsibilities or turn to where her heart is pointing her.

Moana is easy to identify with, she tries to be responsible and smart, but just keeps going back to being herself. The movie’s message comes across as a mix of ‘be yourself’ and ‘find where you belong’, without being cliche or repetitive. The other characters in the story, Maui, Moana’s Grandmother, her parents, and even Heihei, were awesome and well written. Instead of your typical Disney Parents ( I.E dead or abusive and cruel) Moana’s parents are loving and try to teach Moana as best as any parents can.

Her adventure with Maui takes her across the ocean to face various villains, one of whom is hilariously vain and while not *evil*, he does present a problem because he’s a giant hermit crab whose made his shell from jewels, gold, and Maui’s magical fish hook. Did I mention that the crab has one of the catchiest song/dance numbers in the entire film? I’m pretty sure ‘Shiny’ is going down in history right alongside ‘Under the sea’. Speaking of that song, he also mentions Sebastian at one point after the credits.

Through her adventure, Moana and Maui teach each other valuable lessons about being humble and knowing what you want to do, and what you are able to do. At one point Maui mentions that without his magical fish hook, he’s ‘nothing’. He sacrifices that fish hook during the battle at the end of the movie. Of course, he gets it back…. but I think I’ll end there and not spoil too much for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.

So, all in all, I’d recommend seeing this movie multiple times. It is simply amazing in it’s writing and animation, and the morals the story teaches are simple and easy to understand. While it is at some times predictable, it shines with it’s own unique form and excellent story-telling.