by Meghan Hudson
On Thursday, November 24th, Disney released it’s newest feature animated film. The movie is set in the Pacific Islands and tells the story of Moana, the daughter of the village chief who longs to sail the vast ocean. When her island is threatened, she must cross the sea of troubles with a reluctant demigod and return an ancient stone to its home island.
When I first saw the movie, I thought it was a pleasant film. It is a very visually stimulating film; the colors are so rich and the animation is so seamless it looks almost real. The film was originally supposed to be 2D animation, but Disney opted for the 3D animation they have been using for the past few years. I am glad they chose to continue with the 3D animation because it makes the movie feel modern. If the movie was 2D, then the water animation would not be as detailed and realistic. Disney did a phenomenal job with the animation, especially with the water, because it looks so fluid and beautiful.
Disney also has done a phenomenal job with casting for the film. They had decided to be politically correct by having a movie that accurately portrays the culture of its characters. Newcomer Auli’i Cravahlo, a 15-year-old Hawaiian native, voices Moana. I cannot think of anyone else who could have done a better job playing the part than her. I’m glad Disney finally decided to cast someone the same age as the character they are portraying. It really helps for believing that the character is young. Auli’i’s voice is so well-suited for Moana because it is incredibly pure and youthful, but also very powerful.
The plot of the movie is, for the most part, straight-forward. It follows the standard quest format. Moana has to endure a set of challenges that essentially act as a filler and don’t provide much importance other than character development. The film is mostly based on visuals and character development.
All the characters go through substantial change over the course of the film. Maui, the demigod, is arrogant and stubborn at the beginning of the film. He doesn’t want to help Moana initially because he lost his magical fishhook. However, by the end of the film, Moana and Maui have become close friends and he has come to respect her.
Since Moana was little, she had been obsessed with the ocean. During the song “Where You Are,” you see how she grows and learns how to compromise with her village and accept that she must lead her people and forget the sea. Later, you find out that she still hasn’t gotten over the sea. At the beginning of her journey, she is not exactly the best navigator. With some help from Maui, she learns how to be a master wayfinder. This new skill helps Moana grow to be more independent and leader-like. She believes that the ocean chose her to go on the journey at the start, but at the climax of the film, she doubts herself to the point of giving up. It is at this moment that she realizes the true reason the ocean chose her. This is the peak of her character development and the turning point in the film. From then on, Moana is confident in her abilities and doesn’t ask the ocean to help her because she is capable of doing them herself.
This film is definitely one of Disney’s best productions. It is so intricate and it is clear how much effort they put into it. It is hard to find a Disney film with such realistic character development. While it is still a fantasy film, it contains underlying themes that are all too real for everyone. I have to say this movie is definitely better than Frozen. There is really no competition because each film is completely different, but overall, I find Moana to be the more complex and superior film.