Every turn I take, every trail I track
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know, where I cannot go
Where I long to be
See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know, if I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go
– How Far I’ll Go, OST Moana
Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), whose name is a Polynesian word which means ‘ocean’, is not your ordinary Disney princess. She’s a teenager who is set to succeed her father in being the chieftain of their island. However, the girl has always loved the ocean despite the strict rules on leaving the reef. One day, though, she follows the dying wish of her grandmother to seek Maui (Dwayne Johnson), the demigod who stole the heart of Te Fiti – a goddess who brought life to a world made purely of oceans. When she finds him, she will help him recover his hook, a gift from the gods which allows him to shapeshift, and bring him back to the goddess to restore her heart and stop the plague of death.
I love how the whole movie revolves around the two protagonists. It really makes both characters relatable. One struggles with her calling, the other with acceptance. Both are also struggling with their identity. The good thing is that they eventually discover who they are meant to be and what they are meant to do after they have met each other. It speaks volumes about how our encounters with other people help us find out our purpose in life. Don’t count out the supporting cast, though. The side characters – Mini Maui, Gramma Tala, and even Heihei – remind me of Beauty and the Beast’s stellar supporting actors.
One major concern I have though not only for this movie but other Disney films as well is their soundtracks. Frozen’s music is special. However, aside from that, the songs from other recent pictures are a bit underwhelming. There is still magic in them but they are not as memorable as some of the classic hits like Part Of Your World from The Little Mermaid, A Whole New World from Aladdin, and Beauty And The Beast from the movie of the same name. We need more Alan Menken’s and Howard Ashman’s to bring us the magic in Disney soundtracks.
This film is so meta for a lot of reasons but my favorite has to be Maui’s remark to Moana about her being a princess because she wears a dress and has an animal sidekick. I literally laughed out loud in the theater. Don’t be mistaken, it’s still a Disney film to its core. However, the studio is certainly experimenting with their tried and tested formula. They are being rewarded, too, as recent productions have done well in the box office. It’s important to take risks whilst sticking to your roots. Before the movie started, they showed the teaser to Cars 3 and it looks and feels totally different from the previous two films.
With regards to the plot, the story carries a strong message about awareness of our environment. In the movie, Moana and Maui think they are battling Tekâ but, in reality, are facing Te Fiti. After losing her heart, the bringer of life has become a creature of death. This clearly translates to our time wherein Mother Nature can turn against us if we don’t take care of it.
My rating for this movie is 3.5 out of 5 stars.