Moana

Seeing Moana was very enjoyable on New Year’s Eve. However, I was not blown away by this movie in the way I was by its predecessors.

Description

Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of her island’s chief, must sail across the sea in order to get the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) to board her boat and restore the heart of Te Fiti.

Themes

Listen to your heart to find out who you are, your destiny is not always spelled out obviously, all legends have some truth behind them, don’t judge a book by its cover, do what’s right even if you feel inferior, a true friend never permanently turns their back, you never fall too far from grace

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any posers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

Comments

I left the Moana theater dissatisfied. However, that is because I entered with very high expectations. People kept telling me, “Moana is so good!” and, “You should see it!”, so I walked in with the assumption that I was going to see a second Frozen. I was disappointed, but when I think back, it had above-average quality, average being Barbie: Starlight Adventure.

I love how the movie involved island folklore and tradition. Lilo & Stitch was a fun representation of Hawaii, but it didn’t include the legends and stuff that Moana had.

One of my favorite elements of the movie was the personification of the ocean. It was really fun to see a movie that featured the sea, because mermaid movies outside of Barbie are so rare.

Moana is a really great character. She is tough and stubborn about some things, but really friendly and kooky like Anna in a few areas without being gullible. She also has the cutest animal sidekicks!

Maui was kind of like a Kristoff and Flynn Rider character who could do actually more than just climb rock walls. I like his charisma, because it is special and different, in a way. They did reuse the scarred past thing, though…However, Maui is a lovable individual because he is so imperfect at the beginning with no guilt, but has good character development through the movie to where he gains a conscience that isn’t the tattoo guy.

I also LOVE the soundtrack! It kind of reminds me of Frozen…and I like “How Far I’ll Go” a lot better when I’m not imagining or seeing the scene along with the music…but the songs are fun. “Shiny” is awesome. Auli’i Cravalho has such a nice voice!

The problem about Moana is that it is sort of a mashup of the previous Disney princess movies. She has to go on a journey to save her people and has to team up with a guy who is reluctant to help her (Frozen). She is the heir to the leading position in her village, but her personality keeps her from being a perfect candidate (Brave). She is trapped in her home and wants to know what is beyond her boundaries but is forbidden by her parent (Tangled). She wants to please her parents but can’t help being who she is and ends up breaking tradition to save her family (Mulan). She wants to see what’s beyond her part of the ocean even though it is forbidden (The Little Mermaid).

While every story has plagiarized other stories in at least one way or another, Moana is completely predictable, full of clichés, and has no deeper meaning than what is obvious. They tell us she is trying to find out who she is and eventually realizes it, instead of showing us that Elsa was so bottled up from hiding for thirteen years that she has to explode and curse the kingdom with eternal winter.

Also, Moana uses the ever popular theme of a protagonist who is expected to follow flawed tradition but breaks it for the greater good. While this is usually a fun storyline, Moana gives the wrong message. Grandmother Tala says in the song “Where You Are” to Moana, “You are your father’s daughter…mind what he says, but remember–you may hear a voice inside. And if that voice starts to whisper to follow the farthest star…follow it.” She is essentially telling Moana that following her volatile teenage heart is more important than considering her father’s wisdom. It is true, her father is biased and a bit unstable, but her grandmother is going a little too far with this. I don’t like the fact that Moana runs away from home after she has seen, like, two minutes of the problem. If all her family and village had died and then she had gone to restore the heart of Te Fiti, I would have felt a lot better about it.

Moana doesn’t have any distinguished antagonist, and that kind of bothers me. I know, this is a story where there is a problem to overcome rather than a bad guy to defeat, but they don’t have enough genuine setbacks for it to be an intriguing adventure. Tamatoa was awesomely hilarious and gave Moana the hint about Maui’s scarred past, so he was a good one, but the Kakamora were not. They didn’t leave any lasting setback or affect Maui and Moana in any way, they just tried to steal the heart, failed, and never showed up again. Te Ka was also just an annoying wall they had to cross. Maui leaving was good, though, because it reinforced Moana’s stubbornness.

I liked the plot twist of the evil head and body attached to a stretch of land actually being the good head and body attached to a stretch of land. The forgetting who you are and becoming something you never thought you’d be, then being redeemed and restored is one of the few meaningful, unique themes of this movie.

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