Moana, a movie review

A movie review by: Lee Sonogan

(2016) 1h47min / Animation, adventure, comedy.


A musical-themed Disney animated movie. IMDB describes the movie in Ancient Polynesia when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the Demigod to set things right. Dwayne Johnson stars along with the actress Auli’i Cravalho who is 17. The movie had a budget of 150$ million and managed to make over 565$ million at the box office.

This is the first film from directors John Musker and Ron Clements to be in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Moana is the most ambitious motion picture ever attempted by the directors, surpassing their previous films, The Little Mermaid and Treasure Planet. The director put in months of research and even immersed themselves in the Polynesian culture in order to make the film respectful to the culture and mythology of the Polynesian people.

Moana is the first feature film produced by Osnat Shurer, who is currently the Vice President of Development at Walt Disney Animation Studios. In the October 20, 2014, Huffington Post interview, Shurer stated: “And much as I loved all the projects currently in development (WDAS has a very strong development slate and amazing filmmakers at the helm), I particularly resonated with ‘Moana’ for a number of reasons: Ron and John are awesome. This film deals with a surprising, exciting, and lesser-known culture, which is right up my alley. It’s a fantastic story. And Moana has this kick-ass, feisty, interesting female protagonist,” Shurer explained. “So that when Ron and John asked if I would be their producer, and I said I would very much like to, John Lasseter, Ed Catmull, and Andrew Millstein thought it was a fantastic match.”

Starting December 2014, Disney hosted a global casting call for the role of Moana. Thousands of girls auditioned for the role through the Internet and actual casting calls in different locations. Nearly a year later in October 2015, Disney officially announced that the newcomer who will voice Moana is Hawaiian-native, Auli’i Cravalho.

Dwayne Johnson is a firm believer that voice-acting is the most difficult career in acting, and is personally annoyed by celebrities being cast in animated films despite their bad delivery in voicing their characters. When Johnson was cast for the film, he repeatedly asked the other voice-actors present if he was indeed giving a good performance.

Overall the music was not my preference. The only things I like about the singing was the rock and the crab scene singing. All the other music is similar to what I assume what Frozen would be like and heard. But then there is also adventure background music to all the action scenes.

The quality of the imagery is also good with the majority of epic scenes being on the ocean. It helps you keep interested in the story. The main interests of the film are The Rock singing, a few cheap laughs, some action scenes and a different approach to an adventure musical. Would not say that this movie is a stand out original movie. Just vintage Disney story concepts. So I guess the movie is alright, it’s a kids movie…


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