I saw Moana yesterday evening, and I still can’t get over how good it was.

The music is just incredible – it’s a fusion between the style of Opetaia Foa’I, a singer/songwriter from Oceania, Lin-Manuel Miranda the creator of the broadway hit Hamilton, and Mark Mancina, who helped arranged the music for The Lion King. If I can’t persuade you to go and see Moana in this review, that’s fine –but you really must listen to the soundtrack.

The plot of the film is loosely based on Polynesian myth (although that with Disney is not really a guarantee of quality….when one thinks of Hercules). The heroine is a charismatic daughter of a local chief who longs for adventure. When her island is endangered by the spreading darkness, she decides to compel Maui, the demigod, to help save it. Her sense of responsibility for her people and her independent spirit make her a worthy role model for any young girl: she even declares indignantly that she’s not a princess – although to be honest we all know she’s going to appear in an absolutely ridiculous princess outfit in the next edition of the Disney Princess magazine.

A particularly touching aspect of the film is the relationship between Moana and her grandmother. Whereas Moana’s father tries to protect the young girl even at the cost of threatening her independence, Moana’s grandmother is a motivating force throughout the film. In Disney’s previous films, such as Merida and Tangled, the mother-figure of the heroine was seen as a restricting, even stifling influence; in Moana, we finally have a female figure who is supportive of the heroine’s emotional needs.

Auli’i Cravalho is very convincing as Moana and her singing skills are truly amazing. Dwayne Johnson is hilarious as Maui – and his animated tattoos are great at expressing his emotions and his story. Heihei the chicken also deserves an honourable mention – as possibly the most useless sidekick ever.

Moana is excellent family fun. I will definitely watch it again.

Image credits: (fair use)

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