Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

Having seen my fair share of `princess’ movies over the year, Moana stands out.

MOANA’S MISSION — Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) may be a demigod—half god, half mortal, all awesome—but he’s no match for Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho), who’s determined to sail out on a daring mission to save her people. Moana's first challenge is convincing Maui to join her. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, produced by Osnat Shurer, and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i, “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) and  Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho), in Walt Disney Animation Studios Moana.*

One of the reasons is that the `star’ doesn’t look like your typical animated movie princess. Moana is a Polynesian girl and is proportioned like a typical female teenager. Furthermore she doesn’t have a `love interest’!  At the same time she has all the attributes of a princess – she’s feisty, independent, resourceful and cares about her people and the environment.

The movie tells of Moana (voiced by young Hawaiian actress Auli‘i Cravalho), a chieftain’s daughter who loves the water. She is perpetually vexed that her father will not allow her to venture beyond the reef encircling their island home of Motunui. But when blight hits the coconut crop and the fish nets come up empty, the gods of nature need appeasing — and that will only happen if  demigod Maui (excellently voiced by Dwayne Johnson) returns the magical Heart of Te Fiti, an artifact he stole many years ago.

With the tacit blessing of her wise Gramma Tala (Rachel House) and the help of the sea itself, Moana sets out to find Maui and with him save her island.

aui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson in Walt Disney Animation Studios' Moana*.
Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana*.

Along the way she  faces numerous challenges. She has to learn to sail and then there’s Maui. He looks and talks big but doesn’t necessarily act the same way. Vain, selfish and not committed to Moana’s mission, he is also in the midst of a crisis of confidence, having lost his magical fishhook and with it most of his demi-godliness.

Together the two face numerous foes including diminutive, furry but lethal pirates, a treasure-hoarding monster crab (voiced by Jemaine Clement) and the smoldering lava spirit Te Ka, who also has designs on the Heart of Te Fiti.

Joining them on the journey is Heihei, Moana’s dim-witted but seemingly indestructible rooster. Heihei was one of many highlights for my movie companions – nine and six year old boys. Maui’s tattoos, which have a life of their own, were another.

ALAN TUDYK, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ lucky charm (“Zootopia,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Big Hero 6”), is behind the voice of HEIHEI, a dumb rooster who accidently stows away on Moana’s canoe. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
Heiehi is one of the delights of Moana*.

For their mother and me, the story line together with the music and animation stood out. We both thought it refreshing to see an animated movie which had South Sea island myth and culture at its heart. The movie’s numerous, colorfully presented songs, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mark Mancina, were apt for the story being told.

We were also amazed by the animation, some of the best we had seen. I also must admit to being a fan of Heihei! It’s this combination of corny humour, the story and the animation which should ensure Moana appeals to a range of age groups.

Moana officially releases in cinemas on December 26.

*All images: ©2016 Disney.

Other movies I have enjoyed, which are showing during December and January, include La La Land, Rosalie BlumRed Dog True Blue, and Sing.

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