Moana

review by Bobby Blakey

I am not a huge fan of Disney films, but have enjoyed more recent ones including Big Hero 6 and Zootopia. When I saw the first trailers for their latest Moana I was really looking forward to it as it looked like something new and different and of course featured a great voice class including Dwayne Johnson, Auli‘i Cravalho, Jemaine Clement, Temuera Morrison, Alan Tudyk, Nicole Scherzinger, and Rachel House, but does it live up to the island legend of or will it sink to the bottom of the ocean?

Moana follows an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Going in I had high hopes for this latest Disney adventure, but did not get all I wanted out of it sadly. Visually the film is stunning from beginning to end. I really loved the character designs and vibrant colors used throughout. Often times these animated films get a bit drab, but they took full advantage of the beautiful oceans and green of the islands to make a world that will put a smile on your face. As beautiful as the film is, there is something just off by the film itself that left me a bit bored overall.

The first half of the film is a bit slow leaving me struggling to really get interested and invested. I found the intro to the film so slow and generic that I just didn’t care as much as I wanted to. Thankfully it picks up a bit once they introduce Dwayne Johnson as Maui who is perfectly cast and injects the film with some interesting and fun exchanges between himself and Cravalho’s Moana. From here the film is still pretty by the numbers, but manages to bring some laughs and fun that will do its best to reel you back in. As the story progresses it tends to fall back into that simplistic story completely stumbling out of the fun it might have brought to the forefront.

At the heart of this film like most Disney films, is the music and this missed the mark the most for me. There are a couple of fun songs including one at the beginning that does a great job introducing the island people and their culture which instantly lets you know what kind of film you are in for. Then the rest of the music hits and it all just sounds like different versions of the same song with the exception of Johnson and Clement’s numbers. It felt so uninspired to me that I never could get fully invested in what the songs were trying to do complete with a major story plot that felt forced and kind of lackluster.

In the end the film is not horrible and does entertain in a way that will no doubt keep the kids entertained which is really the demographic anyway, but failed to live up to my expectations. Maybe I thought more of what it was going to be and it will change if I see it in the future but for now I have no urge to really swim in this ocean again. 

In addition to the film this release includes a flood of bonus features including deleted scenes, a deleted song, music video, commentary, theatrical short “Inner Workings” and numerous featurettes that take you further behind the world of Moana. As if this was not enough to want to grab your copy of the film it will also include the Maui Mini-Movie “Gone Fishing” that just gives you more fun with these characters.

Set a course for fun and adventure when Moana available now on Digital HD/3D and Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA), Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand.

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