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Moana: Spectacular Animated Musical Ranks as One of Disney’s Recent Best

  • Auli'i CravahloDwayne Johnson...
  • Action & AdventureAnimation...
  • Ron Clements
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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Moana: Spectacular Animated Musical Ranks as One of Disney’s Recent Best

It’s going to be almost impossible to find anyone who wouldn’t enjoy sitting through Disney’s latest animated feature, Moana; a fun and a visually stunning story of a Polynesian princess who finds herself setting off on an exciting voyage across the ocean to save her people.

Enchanting and beautifully crafted, Moana doesn’t stir too far from the expected Disney musical formula, but there’s plenty of heart and eye-popping visuals that give the movie an exceptionally innovative and fresh feel, which go some way to forgiving the occasional narrative conventionalities.  

Set deep in the South Pacific, the story is centred on a Moana (Cravalho); a restless and a forever curious young princess who, ever since she was a young child, has had a very special relationship with the ocean. The island of Maori where she lives, is overseen by her forever-protective father, Chief Tui (Morrison), who has spent most of his life preparing his daughter for the eventual leadership, constantly advising her to stay close to home and not give into any ideas of exploring the world beyond the horizon.


However, as resources on the island hit an ultimate low – a dispiriting reality believed to be connected to the curse triggered by a shape-shifting demigod named Maui (Johnson) who stole a special magical stone from an island goddess long time ago – Moana decides to take matters into her own hands. Deciding to follow the advice given to her by her grandmother, Tala (House), Moana sets sail across the ocean with her pet-chicken Hei Hei, in order to find Maui and return the stone to where it belongs.

It’s hard not to be awe-struck by the beauty of Moana, which, thanks to the wonderful animation, never fails to amaze. Offering an array of mesmerizing visuals, including a never-ending blue-green palette of visual goodness, there’s plenty to love.

Although formulaic in nature, the film uses its Polynesian mythology to its advantage to offer a fresh new angle to a story that many would have seen before. Appealing to both kids and adults, the musical numbers – co-penned by Broadway’s Lin-Manuel Miranda – are equally pleasing, with its title song We Know the Way definitely heading towards possible Oscar glory.

In terms of performances, the character of Moana is brought to life by the fetchingly charming performance of Auli’l Cravalho who manages to set Moana, a princess that shares plenty of traits with other Disney princesses, apart from the crowd, while Johnson shines as Maui, bringing plenty of charm and humour to his character.

Overall, Moana is a hit; heartfelt, refreshing and visually exquisite, audiences will very easily get lost. Definitely one of Disney’s most recent best.

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Having started working on the film at age 14 (she's now 16), Auli'i Cravalho is the youngest actress to ever voice a Disney princess.

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