Moana Makes a Splash in Theaters

Actor Dwayne Johnson, left, and Auli'i Cravalho arrive at the 2016 AFI Fest - "Moana" World Premiere at El Capitan Theatre on Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Actor Dwayne Johnson, left, and Auli’i Cravalho arrive at the 2016 AFI Fest – “Moana” World Premiere at El Capitan Theatre on Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

A new Disney movie, “Moana,” hit theaters Thanksgiving week. The film is about Moana, a Polynesian princess who is a born navigator and sets sail in search of a fabled island of mysterious secrets. During her journey, she teams up with her hero and legendary demigod, Maui.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson voices the demigod Maui, and a newcomer to the animation industry, Auli’i Cravalho, is voicing Moana. Because they were part of a Disney movie, both had many things to live up to, and they definitely surpassed expectations.

Other characters in “Moana” include Moana’s pet rooster, Hei Hei, who is described by director Ron Clements to be “the dumbest character in the history of Disney animation.” Hei Hei is one of those characters who you don’t want to relate to because he is the stupidest bird alive, but ends of being the most relatable character in the movie. It is easy to find yourself in him.

The movie had a very promising soundtrack that is written by Mark Mancina, Opetaia Foa’I, and Lin Manuel Miranda, the genius behind the Tony-award winning musical, “Hamilton”. It delivered. While there were no hits like “Let It Go” in the movie, the soundtrack was inspiring and beautiful with a little island flair. It’s one to be remembered.

With the smash hits that Disney has just released, including “Finding Dory,” which has a main character with a mental disorder, “Zootopia,” which tackled ideas about racial injustice, and “Inside Out,” which dealt with childhood problems and depression, I was surprised that “Moana” didn’t have any social commentary. It didn’t add or take anything away, but it was surprising.

Moana was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. Clements and Musker have previously worked on Disney movies like “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” and most recently, “The Princess and The Frog.” “Moana” was their first CGI movie. Something surprising about this is that the only hand drawn animation in the movie is Maui’s tattoos. It is the first hand drawn animation ever to be featured in an all CGI Disney movie.

“Moana” included Polynesian mythology sprinkled throughout, and did not contain a love interest for Moana. Auli’I Cravalho describes Moana as “…brave, she is so empowered, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it, and I think that’s something that I can relate to as well. I just love watching how she goes along in this wonderful movie and grows as a person and helps her culture along the way.”

Overall, “Moana” was amazing. It was emotional, gorgeous, and funny. Many people could say that Disney is for children, but after watching “Moana,” I’m sure that everyone, even those people, would say that it was enjoyable for all ages. It’s now my favorite Disney movie and I am eager for it to gain the attention it deserves.

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