Much like the rest of our Disney-conditioned generation, the company’s newest princess movie, “Moana” called me. However, the hype subsided as the movie was no “Frozen.”
“Moana” focuses on the daughter of an ancient Polynesian chief, who, upon discovering the voyaging history of her people, sets off to become one herself. According to a legend told by her grandmother (Rachel House), a demigod named Maui (Dwayne Johnson) stole the “heart” of an island and in turn, cursed all other islands, including that of her people. When Moana’s island begins to crumble, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) sets off on a journey to find Maui and sail him across the sea to return the “heart” back to its rightful place.
Moana was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who paired up to write a number of other Disney movies, namely “Aladdin”, “Princess and the Frog” and “The Little Mermaid.”
Clearly, these directors are familiar with the Disney formula: heroin sets out on a journey to make things right, faces an inner battle, then succeeds in their mission in the end, while usually finding love in the process.
Moana, though following most of the above, lacked a love interest. I suppose it was meant to establish her as a strong female character, but let’s be real: a Disney princess needs her prince.
This women empowerment statement would have been successful if the plot was pulled off in a still-interesting way. However, “Moana” was pretty repetitive and inevitably predictable.
Still, the movie was not bad. The animation was impeccable (as most Disney movies are) and there were a few very catchy songs, specifically “How Far I’ll Go,” and “We Know the Way.” Although, I would expect nothing less than a standout song and performance by Hamilton’s Lin Manuel-Miranda.
The movie was clearly well-researched, including intriguing details about Polynesian history. Refreshingly, “Moana” was not your typical princess; she is more body-normal and of an ethnicity other than caucasian.
Overall, “Moana” was a good film. However, my disappointment sprung from my high expectations of Disney, and I was disappointed by its inability to fulfill the expectations this time around.