The new film from Disney, Moana, promises to be one of the best yet. The heartwarming story of a teenage girl, Moana (voiced by Auli’I Cravalho) ventures across the ocean in attempts to save her homeland and people.

Inspired by her grandma, Moana defies her father, and chief of the village, on a quest to reverse a curse that is destroying her island, Motunui. To do so, she must first find the man responsible – Maui and his magic fishing hook (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), a Polynesian demigod who stole the heart of Te Fiti, the island that gives life to the rest of the world. Along with her rooster sidekick, Heihei, Moana overcomes a number of challenges, including an army of coconut pirates, the elements and self doubt. Disney captivate the audience, and 113 minutes seems like 60. The spectacular opening weekend in the US over thanksgiving was well deserved, and inevitably, you’ll leave wishing you had a tropical holiday booked.

2016 has been an incredibly strong year for film, and particularly animation, with Finding Dory and Zootropolis being released earlier in the year, yet Moana definitely does not disappoint. Through exploring Polynesian landscapes, its animators are incredibly successful in bringing the world to life with the vibrant colours and inventive scenes. Similar to Frozen, girl power, strength and progression are central themes to the film. The film bypasses any kind of romantic relationship which has become common in the Disney genre, emphasising the importance of having the courage to be happy and determined on your own. Friendship and family are the only forms of relationship in this film, pleasing to those sick of the happily ever afters of Disney movies.

Directed by Ron Clements and Josh Musker who became renowned with Disney classics such as, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Princess and the Frog, Moana promises a film that will be remembered and viewed as one of Disney’s best. It would be impossible to review the movie without mentioning the music. Whilst it is melodic and easy to recall, it retains an authentic sound. Once again, Disney deliver on the detail of this film. Power ballads such as ‘How Far I’ll Go’, although not on par with the likes of ‘Let it Go’ dominate the film and it guarantees to be one of Disney’s best musicals yet.

It is a film that somehow manages to blend excellent music, thrilling visuals, whilst also balancing messages of global warming, slapstick humour and deep messages (perhaps intended more for the adult audience) – in ways that are reminiscent of Inside Out. The film leaves messages of hope and being who we really are, rather than what society wants us to be – rather uplifting and an excellent inspiration to any child viewer. Catchy music, heartfelt messages and lovable characters create the perfect film for any ages. It is a must watch for any fan of Disney or animation.

[4star]

Amelia Shaw

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