Newest Disney film Moana makes a splash

Zoe Rivera, Staff Writer

  1. A film that depicts a picturesque, seashore landscape.
  2. A film that revolves around a complicated, enriching plot about self-identity and discovery while still managing to enthrall its viewers with its catchy rap verses and sentimental lyrics.

If these two hints don’t ring any bells, then you have my sympathy. Clearly, you have not seen the newest Disney film that brings its ordinary requirements to the table, but with a spicy, entertaining twist: Moana!

Rated 8.8/10 on IGN, Moana is definitely a film that has more than meets the eye. The storyline follows 16-year-old Moana, a proud and reckless girl who is the daughter of the chieftain of a vibrantly-colored island, which is home to lush, exotic vegetation and many amicable locals. Her homeland is put at risk because of an approaching environmental disaster, spear-headed by an angry earth spirit named Te Kā. The reason that Moana’s island is facing this disaster is because an invaluable, precious relic called the “Heart of Te Fiti” was stolen from Te Kā by a demigod named Maui, who is the archetype of a reluctant, self-absorbed male figure who refuses to help the heroine until he is finally persuaded. The film follows the journey of Moana, who must enlist Maui’s assistance in returning the Heart to its rightful place. However, the task is easier said than done, and only reached after several musical verses and scenes of emotional turmoil and unrest – the basic foundation for every Disney movie.

Moana has its ups and downs. Some of the more noble and note-worthy aspects are when Moana walks through the parted sea (a possible parallel to when Moses parted the Red Sea in the Old Testament) and Te Kā comes rushing at her, screaming in agony. Moana then sings a short, emotionall song, coming to the revelation that the lava monster before her is not what Te Kā really is. I find  this scene to be cinematically-well-thought-out and well-timed. In addition, the short song that Moana sings was a big bonus, considering how it truly makes you feel empathetic towards her and Te Kā.

However, there was one component of Moana that I did not like: the character of Maui. I felt that his character was unnecessary and obnoxious, portraying the stereotypical role as a hero with a “sob story” who “fell from grace,” but remaining egocentric, uncaring, and rather rude throughout the film. It felt as if Disney merely placed him in the story to fulfill some sort of masculine role, despite Moana being fully capable of carrying out the painstaking journey by herself.

Regardless of this flaw, I still believe Moana to be a excellent film, combining the original Disney requirements with upbeat songs and catchy raps to appeal to a more modern, younger audience. It came as a breath of fresh air to the film industry, managing to be a unique princess tale while still holding on to age-old patterns.