General Review: Moana

Hello, Spongey here.

We join together on a different day to talk about Disney’s latest. Yeah, movies out of Wednesday isn’t too odd for some smaller films, but it is for a big one like this. But whatever.

To make up for last years absence, the Disney Animated Canon had two films slated for this year. This one was expected to be the beloved Classic while Zootopia would be a throwaway.

Then Zootopia got praised as a beloved classic and now we’re slightly worried about this one. This one was clearly more hyped by them while Zootopia was just kind of there. They’ve done that before back In the 90’s and to them the throwaway was The Lion King.

We all remember how that turned out. Hopefully this one won’t become Pocahontas and be more of a Good Dinosaur when it comes to the 2nd film from the same animation studio. …Well, in the sense that I like it, not in the “irrationality hated” sense.

Anyway, even after Zootopia, this looked pretty interesting. It’s another Princess movie that tries to make the princess more badass, and the trailers showed off some rather gorgeous visuals.

Admittedly, the concepts didn’t quite excite me as much as some other films but it just looked like it could end up being awesome since Disney tends to make films like this pretty well. So hopefully this is good as I want it to be.

At the moment it has a 100 on RT, but of course that’ll go down. However, it’s odd that it’s like this the day before it comes out, and there’s a consensus too. Either way, looks like the reviews are thankfully solid. (It’s 97 now, still pretty good)

As for our creative team, our directors are the team of Ron Clements and Jon Musker, who have brought us Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Princess and the Frog. Yeah, this is gonna be at least good.

Our sole credited writer is Jared Bush, that that Penn Zero Co-Creator who co-wrote Zootopia. Yeah, I think we can trust our time.

But will this result in a good movie? Will this be a new Disney Classic or another drop in the pan? Let’s find out.

This, is Moana

ANIMATION:

Look, you know the animation is good, so why waste time explaining it? …Because I have to. Once again, regardless of how you feel, everyone will agree that the animation is fantastic. Honestly, this is one of their best looking CGI movies so far.

The character designs a bit more variety and the character animation itself is very fluid, allowing them to move really well, which makes both small comedy moments and the big adventure scenes even better.

Speaking of, holy crap these environments are beautiful. The islands look cool and all but tha water man. It looks so great and blue that you almost wanna swim in it yourself. There’s a lot of detail that goes into the little things in this.

Some of the songs give us some more creativity, with really colorful environments. Plus, Maui’s Tattoos give us some 2D Animation which is really. I really have no complaints about the animation.

The character animation is really strong, there’s a lot of variety, and the environments just so gorgeous. Disney really keeps outdoing themselves with the animation, and this is one of their best looking films, at least in a while, and their past few look great!

So yeah, the film is pretty.

WRITING:

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why.

Years later, an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the mighty demigod Maui who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder.

Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

With this kind of modern Disney movie, you could go about the story in two ways. You can add a lot of twists to the formula, or stick to it but add enough changes to make it more interesting for today’s viewer.

This does the later which mostly works, as the film is pretty good! However, it does bring with it my main criticism, which I have to get out of the way. The story itself is…okay. It hits a lot of the beats you expect.

A girl who wants more but is not allowed to go get it, but eventually has to, to stop some big evil teams with a jerk-ish guy who does not like her. It’s that formula without too much to change it.

There’s some that i’ll get to in, but in general, you know where the film is going. It’s done badly per say, it just doesn’t offer a ton of new things. Also ,at some points minor bits can be rushed and it can make the development less smooth.

Also, rushed ending. You know the drill.

However, despite the things, the writing is okay. It does add enough changes to make it interesting in some ways. Moana is more proactive, and there’s no love interest, at all. Unless you filthy shippers forget about age differences. But in general, no romance, thank god. Also, there’s no real villain twist like with their last few films.

There is some kind of thing they do with the villain, but it’s not like in Ralph, or Frozen, or Zootopia, so don’t worry. They at least improve on the Princess formula…cuz for one, she’s not Princess. They even point this out!

It sticks to some tired parts, while improving on certain things. There’s still a ways to go, it’s enough. Most of the good things in the film are tied to the other elements, which makes the writing the weakest link.

However, the writing is still fine. The story is a tad generic, but it’s at least written mostly well, and they do enough to make a fun adventure. It does start a tad slow but once she leaves for the adventure, it picks up very quickly.

There isn’t too much to say about the writing, as the film is clearly focused more on the main characters and the environments themselves. Speaking of, they capture the culture fairly well, at least nothing felt off to me. This is no Pocahontas, trust me.

But if I hear they did something terrible…i might take their word of it, depending on how they put it. Anyway, that’s not too important to me though.

Overall, the writing is fine. The story sadly is a bit typical but they add in some small things to make more rounded and interesting. Everything else is better, but the writing at least isn’t bad or anything.

SONGS:

Whoa, is the first time I got to do this section this year? I mean, Trolls had music but it was a jukebox musical. This might be the first real musical of the year…that I’m reviewing.

I don’t have too much to say. They go for a more classical style in the songs, and it works. The sound they go for fits the environments very well. Songs like the opening song and I Want Song capture the scene well and are lot and help you get invested in the story.

Oddly enough, my favorite might be Maui’s song, just for how catchy it is, and for the neat visuals. Yes, the song perfomed by The Rock is my favorite. 2016 has been weird. I don’t think I flat out disliked any song here.

There is one that’s…kind of a Big Lipped Alligator Moment . I say kind of because it does further one part of the story, but doing it in song form was pointless. Much like the original BLAM.

The only downside to the songs is that honestly, they aren’t THAT great. They are good but I don’t think too many will stick out of be the new Let It Go. ….Thank god for that, actually. There’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just gonna be as classic as the music in some of Disney’s classics.

Still, they do set the mood nicely and are fun to listen to. The soundtrack isn’t the best, but it’s well done regardless.

CHARECTERS:

Like some other films this year, there’s only a few characters that matter but in this case, it’s really just two. A few others exist but these two are the main stars and a majority of the film is about them. So it’s important that they got them right, and they did.

First is Moana, voiced by Auli’i Cravalho. She isn’t the most complex heroine, but she is pretty likable with her need to get out there, and she’;s pretty badass when she wants to be, She does make a couple mistakes to make her more human, but she is still a strong character.

She’s also surprisingly funny, especially when she’s with Maui. I can see some finding her bland since isn’t too complex or anything, but she’s likable and stands on her own. Her voice actress is also very good despite being a newcomer. You gotta give them credit with looking for soemone like her instead of a random Celeb.

Speaking of which, there’s also Maui, voiced by Dwayne The Rock Johnson. I was a tad worried for two reasons. He seemed like he could be annoyed…and…well The Rock and Kids Movies almost never go together. Did you see Planet 51?

However, I actually really liked him…and The Rock in the role! Which is odd because he’s kind of a jerk and his change of heart is slightly rushed. However, he’s just so charming and funny. I like that him being a jerk wasn’t a twist, they establish right at the start that he’s a bit cocky and now people actually don’t care too much for him.

This makes his journey more interesting when it does happen. He’s jerk-ish in a charming and likable way and he gets some very funny moments. Granted, he he gets the two bigger groaners (one of which is a modern reference, made worse by it being the only one).

(Just so you’re ready for it, it’s when he writes something using the chicken’s; beak and he says when you write with a bird, it’s called Tweeting. Seriously).

His backstory manages to work and it is nice when he changes at the end. His development isn’t the great and I can some not liking his natural but I found pretty amusing, and The Rock honestly fits in the role. He was clearly written with this kind of actor in the role, so he doesn’t stick out as much as he does in other kids films.

So good on you Dwayne, you finally managed to work in a kids movie.

As I said, no one else matters…besides the chicken. He’s the animal sidekick and he’s pretty funny. That’s all I have to say about him. We do have some parents who spoilers, both live! That was nice. Dad was pretty cliché with how he wants Moana to stay home, but since he isn’t in it much, I can forgive that.

There’s a Sassy Grandmother who is fun enough. As for the villain, it’s more a big force than an actual character but it makes for a cool climax. The thing they do with it is kind of neat, if a bit weird.

Oh, and Alan Tyudk, in a smaller role this time.

Overall, while they only focus on two characters, it works out because I found both to be charming and likable and the others at least serve their roles well. I can some wishing for more depth, but for what they are going for, I like these guys.

Final Thoughts:

Moana probably won’t be on anyone’s Top Disney Films list, due to sticking to a generic formula, and the odd writing issue here and there, but it still stands as a fun adventures with needed changes to the formula, two fun leads, a solid soundtrack and some amazing animation.

I had fun with this one and I got invested in what was going on even if nothing surprised me. I know I bitch about generic stories often even tough you don’t nee the most complex story to be good.

I just point it out since some films misuse the story and put in writing issues that should not be there. Here I pointed it since Disney has been capable of making better stories with the formula. This at least manages to make it work on it’s own.

Some may take more issue with that stuff, but I can look past to enjoy this this neat adventure. It’s no Frozen or even Zootopia to be honest, but it has it’s charm. Disney fans will sure enjoy this and I’ll only suggest staying away if you really want a big shake up in the formula that this doesn’t quite have.

Even then I’d say see if and see how you feel. My theater was solidly packed so I see this going well. Hopefully it’s not another Frozen in THAT regard..

Writing: B

Animation: A

Songs: B

Characters: B

OVERALL: B. A slightly high B but still a B.

We only have one animated film left and I can’t wait for it…SO I CAN STOP SEEING ADS FOR IT.

As for the next general review overall, most likely it’ll be Rouge One, but we’ll see. Look out for a Thanksgiving post going up tomorrow, by the way.

See ya.

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About Spongey444

I'm 20 and I'm a slightly below average man who can barely spell. I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why i ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things.
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