Moana steals hearts nationwide at Grand Opening

Published in the December 7, 2016 issue of The Bells

Walt Disney studios released their newest animated film Moana to theatres nationwide on November 23, and so far, it has been a big hit for all ages. The movie was given a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which is the first high rating for a Disney movie in a long time. It is 1 hour and 43 minutes long and is rated PG for its brief scary images. While it was given such a high rating, I personally give it a 8 out of 10 stars. The movie itself had great potential, but I felt like it was missing something.

The story is focused on a teenage girl named Moana, who is the daughter of the chieftain on a small island in the Polynesian Islands. From a young age, Moana Waialiki has always wanted to venture out but no one is allowed beyond the reef.
Moana takes great pride in her homeland and people and when she discovers her island is dying and her people’s chances of survival are dwindling because of a plague of darkness. She decides to find the Demi-god and master way-finder Maui and restore life to the island
What I really liked about the plot is that there are many conflicts the character’s face before reaching the final climax of the movie. It is not a ‘solve one and done’ type of film. Instead, the main characters must overcome multiple challenges before they can succeed.

The animation style was gorgeous and has continued to improve and become more realistic with each new Disney film. The elaborate detail is consistent throughout the movie and is mesmerizing. The way the water glistens and rolls as the waves hit the island gives the audience the feeling that they are on this journey with Moana.

While Moana’s character development evolved over the film’s entirety, her counterpart Maui didn’t have much improvement. The only noticeable thing was that Maui was a little more considerate to the mortals toward the end of the movie, but was still vain until the end. Also, in the last few scenes, Moana’s father participates in an action he was so against in the beginning of the movie. His participation in the event feels almost random and forced. Sure, he is happy to support his daughter, but he personally has a hatred for the action and so it is strange to see him performing it with his daughter. I’m sure the last few scenes were meant to take place a month or so later but they seemed highly unlikely.

What I enjoyed most about this movie was the authenticity of the culture, personalities, and day-to-day lifestyle of the Polynesian people. In a behind- the- scenes video, it is shown that those who worked on the film went to the Polynesian islands to learn more about the culture and I am glad they did. This was a welcomed departure from the recent European-based quest to find out who Moana really is. She goes through the angst of every teenager who just wants to fit in.
This movie is a must- see. Viewers of all ages who love animated adventure films will definitely love Moana.

Author: Madeline Oden

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