‘Moana’ (2016, PG)

The latest animated comedy to come from Disney, is ‘Moana’, set on a tropical island, the next ‘Frozen’, or is it better left hidden in the depths of the ocean?

Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho) is the daughter of Chief Tui (Temeura Morrison) and knows that she will, one day, become the leader of her island home and community. Despite this, all she wants to do is explore and leave her island to sail across the ocean to find the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and  live the legend’s her grandmother (Rachel House) read her as a child. Her dreams come true sooner than expected, though, as a dark force plagues her island, and soon Moana is off, voyaging across the ocean to find adventure and the elusive Maui.

I didn’t realise this before I saw the film, but ‘Moana’ is a musical, so for all those sing-along-haters reading, perhaps this film isn’t for you. However, I personally really enjoyed this film, even though the irritatingly catchy songs did get stuck in my head coming out of the cinema. ‘Moana’ is a brilliant animated film, arguably the best to come from Disney all year.

As with all Disney films, ‘Moana’ has an overall message, in this case, it’s a sense of ‘girl power’ , as a young, independent woman (soon to become the first female leader of her island community, I might add) goes out alone on the oceans to save her island and find… an all powerful male demigod to actually stop the darkness from spreading. It’s this that ruins the feel of ‘Moana’ for me, it’s as if, however hard they try, Disney can’t shake away their stereotypes and clichés in films.

That said, I did really like the character of Maui, and I felt they did well not to make the character seem too powerful and godly. Although he has superhuman abilities, Maui is not perfect — he’s arrogant, vain and irritating, however, I felt he was the best part of the film by far. Dwayne Johnson was definitely the best choice for the role, and he definitely lived up to my expectations in ‘Moana’ after his brilliant appearance in the comedy ‘Central Intelligence’ earlier this year (my review of which can be found here).

However, it’s not all good news for ‘Moana’. I felt that the plot was lacking a bit and included a lot of generic points and clichés — needlessly to say, the similarities between Moana and previous Disney films were easy to spot. There were also some gaping holes in the logic and story in this film as I often thought that the entire 1:43 run-time could’ve been condensed to around about ten minutes if the convenient magic had interfered a bit more than when it was just for comedic effect. But, I know, it wouldn’t make much of a film if the hero completed the magical quest before you could finish your popcorn, and so I’m allowing a little bit of leniency in this case.

Overall, ‘Moana’ is a strong film with a good cast and some funny moments. However, the moral and message don’t come across as strongly as I’d hoped, and some of the plot-holes in this film can’t be ignored, meaning I’ll have to give it seven-out-of-ten.



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