Film review: Disney’s Moana (out 2 December 2016)

This Christmas Disney is treating families to the great new musical animation Moana that will inspire generations of children for years to come. Moana sails into UK cinemas on 2 December. Read what London Mums and kids think about it.


The story

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast South Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one today knows why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes Moana, a sweeping, CG-animated adventure about a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master way-finder and fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. During her journey, she meets the once-mighty demi-God Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), and together, they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous fiery creatures and impossible odds.


The talents

Voice Cast: Auli‘i Cravalho (Moana), Dwayne Johnson (the mighty demigod Maui), Jemaine Clement, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk.
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker – they made their writing-directing debut on the 1986 feature “The Great Mouse Detective.” They went on to write and direct some of Disney’s most beloved animated classics, including the undersea adventure “The Little Mermaid” in 1989, the hilarious hit “Aladdin” in 1992, 1997’s epic comedy “Hercules” and, most recently, 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog.” moana disney
Producer: Osnat Shurer – she served as the executive producer of the shorts group at Pixar Animation Studios, responsible for Pixar’s short films, as well as all DVD bonus materials. While at Pixar, Shurer produced or executive produced a host of hit shorts, including the Oscar®-nominated “Lifted” (2006), “One Man Band” (2005) and “Boundin’” (2003).


The trailer


The soundtrack

Featuring music from a diverse and dynamic team that includes Tony®-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and multiple Tony-winning “Hamilton,” Tony-winning “In the Heights”), Grammy®-winning composer Mark Mancina (“Speed,” “Tarzan” “The Lion King”) and Opetaia Foa?i (founder and lead singer of the world music award-winning band Te Vaka).

Listen NOW to one of the end-credit tracks from the film, “HOW FAR I’LL GO”, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and performed by Alessia Cara.

“HOW FAR I’LL GO”- Alessia Cara

Plus sample Dwayne THE ROCK Johnson’s brilliant song in the film “YOU’RE WELCOME”, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda




The verdict

This wonderfully crafted musical tale Moana confirms Disney Renaissance and splendor. Unsurprisingly so considering the directors behind it are the duo Ron Clements and John Musker, the same of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. I felt really honoured interviewing them at the Gala screening which took place at BAFTA. I asked them why they wanted to make a movie about the ultimate Anti Princess and they said that Moana (more than Rapunzel in Tangled and more than the Arundel sisters in Frozen), is not the typical princess, despite wearing a dress and having an animal sidekick (rooster Heihei). She is a coming-of-age female explorer with a thirst for adventures and a great sense of justice. She is a healthy heroine who does not really fit into the mold of past princesses. This is obviously great news as she is a neutral sort of heroine appealing to both girls and boys. She is a lot more independent-minded princess who can stand up to the ultra-macho Maui as well as an army of coconut pirates and  the supernatural beast with a volcanic temper Te Ke.

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Moana is an empowered Polynesian princess who takes control of her own destiny rather than waiting for her prince to come. She is one of the best role models in the Disney universe.

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I also love the overall look of Moana, which reminds me more of Disney’s classic 2D hand-drawn animations than more recent Disney movies. When asked about this specifically, both directors Ron and John confirmed to me that this was purposely done.

One of the main characters stealing the show is the soundtrack. People leaving the cinema kept singing tunes from the film. I bet this soundtrack will win an Academy Award for best music in animation. It totally deserves it. Watch this space while I publish my interviews with two of the three composers, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i.

One of my favourite musical numbers from the film was the psychedelic disco thrill of monster crab Shiny, by Flight of the Conchords singer Jemaine Clement. 

Another favourite character of mine is the water, which is also animated and constantly interacting with Moana and friends.

Santa, you’d better be ready …. I can already visualise a Moana Christmas for many children. It’s going to be a Moana wishlist for me too!

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London Mums’ rating 8/10

Kids’ Club rating 9/10


Moana sails into UK cinemas on 2 December, 2016.











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