Release Date: 23 November 2016 (USA)
Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Temuera Morrison
Running Time: 1h 47min
A million years ago, the demigod Maui stole the heart of the island goddess, Te Fiti as a gift for humanity. Before he could get away, he was stopped by the lava demon Te Ka, but Te Fiti’s heart and Maui’s magical fish hook was lost to the ocean.
Now, a million years later, Moana, the heir of a small Polynesian tribe is chosen by the ocean to retrieve the heart. But she is stopped by her father, the chief, who reminds Moana that their island has everything they could possibly need, and that she is forbidden to go further than their reef.
However, as Moana grows up, they are stricken with famine, their islands begin to die, and their fishing expeditions are unsuccessful. So Moana suggests sailing beyond the reef, but her request is rejected.
Ignoring her father, Moana takes to the sea in search of Maui, to return the heart of Te Fiti and to restore her island. But when she finds Maui, he’s less than willing to give her a helping hand…
Nevertheless, Moana pursues her goal, catches up to Maui, and retrieves the heart. But she still needs his help. Eventually, he agrees to aid her in her mission, but only after he retrieves his fishhook from the Realm of Monsters.
With the fishhook and the Te Fiti’s heart in their possession, the pair travel to return the heart to its rightful owner, where they are attacked by Te Ka. They battle on, trying to pass Te Ka, before realizing that the lava demon is actually Te Fiti, corrupted with evil without her heart. As Moana sings, Te Ka finally realizes who she really is, and is able to restore her heart, the island and the oceans to their original glory.
Despite its Disney status, Moana is so much more than your happy-go-lucky singalong movie – it’s inspirational, significant, entertaining, powerful, hilarious, and it’s downright catchy.
The most exciting thing, though, about Walt Disney’s newest princess, is just how different she is to the others. She’s not stick-thin with blonde hair, blue eyes and pretty dresses. She’s not being saved by a handsome prince on horseback. She’s not a damsel in distress. Instead, Moana is strong. She’s powerful. She’s independent. And the only man involved is a demigod/friend, with no romantic undertones – and for once, this change is brilliant.
The story of Moana is one of the most inspirational stories to come from Disney. In this story, a young woman defies the norm, she finds her own voice and makes her own destiny and identity. She purposefully denies what society asks of her, because she knows what is intrinsically right. She’s a leader – which is a powerful message to be instilling into Disney fans.
As well as the incredible storyline and message behind the movie, it is just one feel-good movie. With dazzling images of beautiful beaches, oceans, and reefs, as well as catchy songs and performances, it’s everything you’d expect from Disney and more.
Despite the relatively unknown actress, pairing the voice and innocence of Auli’i Cravalho and the big booming tones of Dwayne Johnson was a stroke of genius – which struck a balance between Disney-moneymaker-movie and a going-down-in-history Disney movie.
Yes, there’s the typical happily-ever-after ending, blah blah blah – but this is the kind of ending that you could watch over and over again. Because this ending is really making a difference.