Saturday, November 26, 2016


2016 has kinda been the year of the animated film for me. I've seen five this year. Five in the theater, that's a new adult record for me. I'm I ashamed? No. All of them have been very good if not great! To be honest most Disney Animated and Pixar films give the live action stuff a run for their money. That's a scary thought. Not from a creative perspective but a business one. Do movie goers only flock to the theater to see Disney films anymore? That's a opinion I may tackle some other time. Today I'm talking about MOANA.

I almost took a pass on seeing MOANA at the theater. With already seeing ZOOTOPIA and FINDING DORY, I felt MOANA could wait till Netflix. It's a good thing I didn't wait, because MOANA rocks on the big screen. We're well on our way to Winter 2016 so it was inviting to see an animation style lush with color and Polynesian culture. The music is good as well!

This is a animated musical so you gotta talk about the music. You've got the guy wrote the HAMILTON Broadway musical co-writing some of the songs. While I cannot vouch for HAMILTON , I do know that Lin-Manuel Miranda is talented. The songs in MOANA are proof, plus the new cantina song he wrote for STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS is awesome!

But the ultimate credit for the music in MOANA has to go to the directors of the movie, Ron Clements and John Musker. Among others they directed ALADDIN and THE LITTLE MERMAID, so right there it's a automatic win. I had a friend in high school who had the ALADDIN soundtrack. We listened to that thing ironically for the most part, but those songs were catchy I'll admit.

So of course MOANA is about Moana, a young woman who will one day rule her people. But Moana has no interest in such things and would rather go sailing beyond the reef and explore the sea. Her chieftain father will have no such thing as it is forbidden for anyone to go past the reef.

Years go by and something (as in a curse) has been slowly killing the plant life on the island. Moana and her grandmother know the cure is out beyond the reef. The sea has always had a special bond with Moana. She knows it's up to her to find Maui, the demi-god, who according to the myth is responsible for the curse because he stole/lost an important stone.

Against her father's will Moana sets sail to find Maui and return the stone to where it belongs. And it's here where our adventure finally begins.

I say finally because it feels like the film takes forever to get the adventure going. I know this is a kids movie so it's normal for exposition to get repeated, but I clearly felt a redundancy issue with MOANA. There were too many false starts to the adventure in my opinion.

Once Moana and Maui meet the real fun begins. I felt myself getting lost in the mythology of the film. The search for Maui's hook-staff was my favorite part. Our two heroes have to dive into some kind of monster realm to steal back the hook-staff from a giant crab. It reminded me of CLASH OF THE TITANS or a SINBAD film.

It also made me think of another animated film that was released this year. I found myself getting a tad bit distracted thinking about KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS during some key moments. But that's okay, stuff like that is bound to happen in movies. Blame it on coincidence and the writings of Joseph Campbell.

In conclusion, I highly recommend MOANA if you're a fan of Disney animated films. It's a beautiful movie to look at with fun mythological adventure, the songs are great too.

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