Moana (2016)

Moana aka Vaiana
Director: Ron ClementsJohn Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams
Writer: Jared Bush
Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk
Seen on: 3.1.2017

Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) has always been happy on her island, but curious about the sea that surrounds it as well. But nobody on her island really ventures out to sea. But then an ancient curse starts to affect their island, a curse set into motion by the demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Moana knows that she has to do something about it: she has to find Maui and make sure that he makes things right. And that means leaving the island.

Moana is a beautifully animated film with absolutely fantastic movie. There are some issues but I was able to really fall into the film regardless.

Moana – in Europe re-titled to Vaiana because there’s a documentary about a porn actress called Moana with the same title – really is a beautiful film. The animation is simply stunning and the art style is pretty great (except for the fact that currently Disney animation women all look the same with huge eyes and small noses – this time in the brown edition). And the voic acting is equally excellent, with Cravalho immediately catapulting herself to the top of my Newcomers I Want to Keep an Eye On list.

But the real star of the film is the music. There really isn’t a song that’s weak on it, and I really couldn’t choose my favorite. They are touching and emotional and funny. The melodies go right in your ear and put up camp there, the lyrics are smart. I went out of the film and started listening to it on a loop immediately. Simply fantastic.

Much has to be said, too, for the fact that Moana is Polynesian and not another white woman at the center of a Disney movie; plus that they took care to cast Pacific Islander voice actors, at least in the major roles. But the representation of Polynesian culture is not unproblematic in itself – starting with the fact that there is not one Polynesian culture to begin with to the fact that very few people behind the film are Polynesian themselves.

Since I’m not directly affected by that misrepresentation, I could look past it (although I’d understand if you couldn’t) and I really fell into the film that had me laughing and crying and smiling in various combinations. It was a wonderful movie experience.

Summarizing: If you can look past the issues, it’s great.


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