Movie Review: Moana

The new Disney movie Moana was released November 23, 2016 for the US Thanksgiving weekend. They feature a new Disney “princess” named Moana, who hails from the Polynesian islands. They earned over $56 million on their first weekend, earning them over $80 million in total since their opening.

What is this Movie About?

This movie follows Moana as she travels across the sea to search for a Demi-god named Maui. Moana has a mission to save her village as the strange matters have been occurring.

Trailer

General Overview (Without Spoilers)

Watching this movie a week ago, I had expected a lot since a lot of people had been saying that was a very good movie. I hadn’t gotten chance to see it until two weeks after the release date due to packed schedules, but I have to say, I am a little disappointed.

It would be an understatement to say that I’m a Disney fan. I have loved Disney ever since I was young and am still going strong. I had high expectations for Moana, but when the movie was finished, I didn’t feel satisfied.

I agree that the movie was beautiful, because it was. I loved the art and the scenery of the ocean and the details of Moana and the island were so amazingly drawn. But there were just some details in the plot that had me hesitating from loving this movie like I had all the others.

I felt that they were forcing the plot too much and the songs just felt so abrupt, it didn’t really fit. There were also some cringey parts that I felt “meh” with, and I wasn’t very into it. This might just be me, but that is my general overview of the movie. However, there were a ton of good parts to the movie, so I wouldn’t count it out just yet.

Full Review (*With Spoilers*)

moana

The Plot

The plot is the classic, “something has gone wrong, so I need to go and fix it” kind of thing. I loved how the movie started out. They had the whole story about how Maui had gotten Te Fiti’s heart and that ultimately lead to some drastic consequences. It actually led to me thinking that Maui was the bad guy, when in reality he had done it with good intentions.

I think the main problem I had was the pacing of the plot. It felt way too rushed. In the beginning, the introduction of Moana was beautiful with the water and the seashells. However, from the time she grows up to the time she finds out the hidden boats to the time she decides to save her island, was so rushed, it didn’t give time for the audience to digest the information. Especially with the grandmother, it felt like she was alive and healthy and dancing one minute and then dead the next. It didn’t seem realistic to me.

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The songs as well, especially the first song that was sung felt too forced. The songs were beautiful and one of my favourite parts of the story, but there were times where it just happened so abruptly, it was almost awkward.

The plot also felt too overly simple. I understand that this movie is targeted to children, so I might have a bit of a bias here. But I felt that facing the fighting coconuts wasn’t necessary. The golden crab as well. It was funny and entertaining, but I didn’t really see the point. But from a children’s perspective, I can see how this movie can be brilliant. It gives the humour and the fun to children and while I was in the movie theatre, I heard a lot of laughter.

I also had a problem with the conflicts of the story, but I will dive into that further on in the review. But as for the good parts, I loved the concept of the Demi-god Maui and how he can change to different creatures. I also loved how the ocean had chosen Moana. It felt so very fantastical and something that would come out of mythology. I also loved the development of the characters, which I will also get into, as the story progressed.

Characters

Moana

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Moana goes after the Mulan and Merida aspect as she is more brave, courageous, and wants to do things that others (mainly parents) don’t really approve of. It was also one of the movies that proved that “you don’t need a man to do things”. And that was something I liked about the movie. It gave her character a lot of strength and courage– something that I think will continue to be a motif in future Disney princess films. Although Maui was supposed to be the one that was supposed to save the world, we see that it was actually Moana that had pushed past the hard barriers alone before Maui could take over. That was a very important part as it solidified this concept.

Moana was also a dynamic character as we see her change from the beginning of the movie to the end. In the beginning, she didn’t really understand her mission and rejected it– which I felt was something very cliché, but doable– but in the end, she got over her fears and went for it. We see her having many insecurities along the way, such as when she was meeting Maui, but she eventually grew out of that and we see her character develop as she becomes more confident.

Maui

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The demi-god that was responsible for starting all the chaos in the world. Maui. As I said before, when the movie started, I had actually thought that Maui was the bad guy and that the trailers in the movie had been leading us to think he was a good guy, when in reality, he was the bad. But I was proved wrong when Maui turned out to be a pretty decent guy– well, halfway through the movie.

 

When we first meet Maui, he had an ego the size of the world. His song was too perfect and I loved it. But his arrogance annoyed me a little and the fact that he was willing to leave Moana on an island trapped in a cave was just pushing it too far. That was what made him so great, though, because he was imperfect even though he was deemed a demi-god.

His past story a perfect way to get to know him better and to connect with him. The only problem that I had with him was how he changed his mind so quickly, it was getting to the point of ridiculous. At first, he refused to help Moana, then he does, then he decided he doesn’t, then he ends up saving her. His mindset just changed so much, it felt like it was being forced so that Moana could get the opening to shine and be the “heroine without a man” character.

Conflict

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The conflict of the story was reasonable and I actually liked it. Maui had stolen the heart of Te Fiti, which happened to be the source of all balance of life and creation, but now that the heart is gone, everything is dying. That main conflict really drove the story and made me interested.

However, it was the smaller side conflicts that I thought could have been better. Such as with the fighting coconuts. Did they really need to happen? I provided a good humour relief, but there really wasn’t a point to it. As well as the golden crab, that was singing. Really? I think that they could have done both of those scenes a little bit different, but I get it. It’s a children’s movie.

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The other conflict was the one between Moana and Maui near the end of the story. I kind of mentioned this in Maui’s character talk, but I’ll dive into detail here. They are on their way to restore Ta Fiti’s heart, but on the way, they are defeated by a fire demon. Maui’s fish hook that allows him to transform into different characters, almost gets destroyed which upsets him and makes him have no more desire to restore Ta Fiti’s heart. This then leads to Maui and Moana’s splitting. But when Moana decides to go and battle the fire demon and go to Ta Fiti by herself and almost gets killed, Maui comes back with a renewed mind.

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And that was the thing. Maui just came back, just like that. No doubts, no questions, he just came soaring back because a tattoo on his chest told him to. That is a stretch, no matter how you see it. But again, I get it; it’s a children’s movie.

Furthermore, after the battle, Maui’s fish hook is completely destroyed by the fire demon. But when Ta Fiti is restored, she unhesitatingly gives another fish hook to him– brand new and all. That moment just felt like everything that Maui had been through and all the morals that he had placed about not caring if he had the fish hook or not, was a waste. And I was completely disappointed at that.

Art

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The art, on the hand, was completely breathtaking. It felt like we were there in the islands ourselves. They didn’t miss any detail. From Moana’s hair to the waves of the sea to the tress, it was so beautiful to watch. I have never been to the Polynesian islands, but this was an amazing view to see for 2 hours.

General Overview

So since I am a teenager and this movie does target children, I don’t think it would be fair just to include my own rating. So I’m going to do two.

Rating from me:

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Three out of five stars! I really liked the movie, but I felt that it wasn’t something I could fully enjoy due to a whole number of reasons. There were a lot of things that I felt could have been better, but overall, I would recommend this to anyone who loves Disney and wants a fun little movie to watch.

Rating from children’s eyes:

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Four out of five stars! Although I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to, there were a bunch of kids in the theatre that I knew loved it by the sounds of their laughter. My little brother as well enjoyed it and wouldn’t stop talking about it when he got home. So for children, though it isn’t perfect, I would totally recommend it for them.

Have you seen Moana? What did you think of it? What were your favourite and least favourite parts? Tell me down below! 

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