Rating: 8.5 / 10
Moana is magic. This gem of a film gives us the 21st-century princess we deserve, using the backdrop of the Pacific Islands to bring us a story of a young girl who is doing her best to stay true to herself and her people. Moana is the young daughter of a chief who has an inexplicable call to the ocean, despite her father’s clear instructions to never, ever, go beyond the reef. Yes, we’ve heard stories like this before, but never quite like this.
Disney has been experimenting with what it means to be a Disney princess in the 21st century for a while now, but they have never quite hit the mark. Moana edges closer to this ideal – for the first time, there is no love interest for this teenager. Moana is presented entirely in her context, and not in relation to a man (as seen in Tangled and other films). Even more refreshing, at no point in the movie does Moana require saving. Disney finally seems to understand that all you need to create a strong female character is to have her stand on her own feet. And bonus: Moana passes the Bechdel test!
The soundtrack of Moana, like Frozen, is reminiscent of the big joyous numbers you’d expect to hear on stage. This is no doubt due to the influence of songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creative mind behind the Broadway smash Hamilton. The theme song for the film, How Far I’ll Go¸ is empowering and catchy – containing all the elements of Let it Go without being annoying (yet). Most surprisingly, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson takes a very Hamilton-esque turn with his big number, You’re Welcome.
Moana’s script is perfect. Written by Academy Award nominated Taika Waititi, the pacing, humour and emotional fluctuations experienced in the film has not been seen since… The Lion King. It is difficult to explain exactly how these elements come together to give us the perfect Disney film. But I felt entertained, happy and inspired, and I think you will too.
Moana is Disney’s first, genuinely 21 st-century princess, and embodies everything we love about Disney. You will leave the cinema feeling happy and wonderful.