Underrated: Moana (2016) Review

4.5/5* Siobhan Divers | Shiv’s Show

Dir: Ron Clements and John Muker

107 minutes

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jermaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk.

“If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”

An enchanting, feel-good animation with a relatable main character and a catchy soundtrack, Moana is empowering, diverse and loveable – an instant classic.

Set on the picturesque island of Motunui, Moana tells the story of a young Polynesian girl named Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) who dreams of being able to explore and travel. Like the storyline of most Disney films, main character Moana is in love. But she’s not in love with some Prince, she’s in love with the idea of sailing across the ocean – a forbidden notion on her island as her father Tui’s (Temuera Morrison) boat was once wrecked in a storm causing the death of his friend.

Alongside her determination to travel and explore, Moana is also determined to save her people and their resources – their eco-system is failing as a result of Demi-God Maui’s (Dwayne Johnson) decision to steal the heart of Goddess Te Fiti. Moana takes it upon herself to find Maui, locate the heart and give it back to Te Fiti.

Moana means ocean or deep sea in a number of Polynesian languages including Maori and Hawaiian and is a charming coming-of-age tale exploring Polynesian culture and folklore – an area which is not often represented on screen.

As a leading character in a Disney film, Moana can claim the title of ‘Disney Princess’ but she is also so much more – she’s relatable, inspiring and independent.

Moana isn’t the only memorable character in the film however. Tamatoa (Jemaine Clement), a giant, singing, treasure-hoarding crab steals the show with his musical number ‘Shiny’.

Sadly, Tamatoa is only in one scene and a post-credit sequence… who made that decision???

A progressive story showcasing female leadership, Moana is a must-see animation – perhaps one of the best new Disney films… Frozen who?

If you liked this, please read, like and comment on my other reviews here.

I also have a Letterboxd account where I post some short reviews of the most recent films I’ve seen.

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Siobhan x

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