Not content with dominating the box office with Doctor Strange and making critics swoon with Queen of Katwe Disney has another potential hit on its hands. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the next Disney heroine your children will fall in love with, Moana. Moana stars newcomer Auli’i Cravalho as Hawaiian misfit Moana; she lives on an island paradise with her family, and everything seems hunky dory. She yearns to go beyond the safety of the reef but her father, the chieftain, wishes her to stay and become chief herself one day.
Eventually, she relents and begins to take her chiefly duties; that is until corruption starts to seep in from the outside world and threatens the peace and tranquility of Motunui. Our heroine takes this opportunity to head out into the open ocean, find the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and save her people and the world with his help.
Moana is yet another feather in the stunning cap of Disney. They are onto an incredible year with 2016, and Moana won’t stop that train from slowing down. The characters are memorable and fascinating, in particular, Moana and Maui who are a wonderful double act. The rapport between Johnson and Cravalho is energising, Johnson is his usual charismatic self, but Cravalho is no slouch and is a magnetic personality all herself. She has a bright future ahead of her with such a vibrant and powerful personality.
Other stars of Moana include Ron Clement and John Musker who’s direction is grand; there are many examples of this throughout the film, but one of particular note is an encounter our heroes have with a 50-foot crab monster voiced by Jemaine Clement. It’s visually a treat and comes with a fantastic song sung by the Flight of the Conchords member himself.
If there are any problems with Moana it is that it is too family friendly, it never feels like our heroes are in actual danger. This boils down to a villain that is never used to its full potential, Te Kā, a massive lava beast. Its design is enthralling, and its presence is gripping but it has no motivation, no personality and that was deeply disappointing. It reminded me of the Titans from the Disney classic Hercules, big, scary, and ultimately just there for show.
With these little issues aside Moana is another enticing reason to have a Disney Day at the cinema. Head along and bring the whole family. You’ll enjoy yourself to no end.