Hello, Spongey here.
We get to do two general reviews in one week, that’s pretty wild. But this one is special as with this one, I’m going back to the theaters. Yeah, even once they started to repon a bit, I was very hesitant to do so for obvious reasons. Ultimately, I chose not to go, as most people were on my side. I almost did for The New Mutants but backed out since it’s better to be safe than sorry. …And also everyone on Twitter would guilt trip me over it.
Actually, that’s the primary reason, if I’m being honest lol. However, with things calming down a bit and the circumstances around this movie, I decided to just do it. My local theater is taking solid precautions, even if they are also jacking the price for some reason. So yeah, on the rough one year anniversary of the last time I went to a theater, I’m back. I plan to wait a bit until the next time, depending on what happens of course.
Anyway, here we have Walt Disney Animation’s latest effort. They are doing that whole extra 30 dollar fee thing they did with Mulan, because they didn’t learn their lesson. I ain’t doing that and honestly if I used…alternative means, no one would believed that i paid that price. So that’s way I was better off just going out to see it.
Anyhoo, this was of course one of the many films that got delayed that is now finally coming out, I don’t have a lot to say here. Disney’s been on a hot streak with the WDAS movies, so hopefully this can keep this up and be a solid adventure.
We’ve got two directors. One of them has done some other Disney movies, like Big Hero 6 and Moana. The other is the guy who directed Blindspotting. …Random but hey that was great so whatever. As for our writers, one has mostly done TV like Peg+ Cat and (we live in) The Society, and the other was a writer on Crazy Rich Asians.
So with all that said, how does this one fare? Let’s see.
This, is Raya and the Last Dragon
(Oh, and there was a short called Us Again that was pretty cute, had some fun dancing)
A lone warrior, Raya, must track down the legendary last dragon to stop an evil force that has returned after 500 years to once again threaten her homeworld, Kumandra.
This movie was quite good. Not quite up to very good but it is up there and kind of pushed it at times. As far as the current crop of WDAS movies go, I’d put above the Frozen and Ralph sequels and below the stuff I rated Great. It was a fun action/adventure story with plenty going for it. There isn’t a lot to say for most of it though.
To get it out of the way, the animation is really good. I expect that at this point and there was some especially cool settings and fun action. The character animation is really good here, and the dragon’s design is fine, ya’ll just mean. But yeah, not much to say there that the visuals are indeed on point.
My minor flaws can actually be better implemented into the rest of my review so I’ll save them for later. The story itself is a bit cookie cutter in some ways, with there being peices of some Magic McGuffin they gotta get. But I think this provided a decent framework for some neat locations each with their own flavor and obstacles to overcome. Plus, the themes made up for it and it didn’t feel like a weak story as a result of these more cliche elements.
I didn’t pay much attention to the trailers so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Thus, there some surprises regarding how things set into motion. It hooked me in from the start as we see how this world works and how things ends up going to hell. Raya is a solid lead, not the most complex I suppose but she was likable and made mistakes in a way that mostly felt believable. They are mostly to forward the themes and that could have made it forced but it generally wasn’t.
Sissu, voiced by Awkafina, could have been one of those annoying comic relief but outside of a couple moments, she doesn’t go overboard and is able to have her dramatic moments. Those could moments were anachronistic jokes but they weren’t terrible. I guess. So she worked well for me.
Previous current Disney movies have flirted with action/adventure stuff but this goes more all in. It doesn’t dark or anything but still embraces it. There’s some of the usual Disney comedy but it mostly works and didn’t distract too much.’
The aspect that ended up tying the whole thing together is the themeing. Basically, Raya gets screwed over by someone who betrays her which leads her to not trust people too much. Her father wanted to unite the world together but people’s lack of willingness to do so screwed them over. Raya eventually has to learn to trust again and the character who started that gets involved in this.
The message ends up being all about how this world should unite and work together, and start trusting each other. It’s a good one that works very well. It end up making things a bit more meaningful and it was pulled of quite well.
This character I can’t say too much about but what they did with them was a good surprise. But I do wish they were fleshed out a tad more. There is a transition with them that feels a bit abrupt and I think a couple more scenes with them would have fixed that. As it is, this isn’t a big deal but it’s still there. By that same token, a couple members in their party that join could have been fleshed out a bit more too.
The runtime listed was like an hour 50 but it didn’t feel that long so I assume that’s only including the credits. It’s well paced, even if, as I said, there could have been more bits with one aspect and the epilogue could have been more drawn out, even if it was emotionally satisfying.
Overall, Raya and the Last Dragon was a pretty solid effort. It was a very enjoyable action/adventure where the action and adventure is pretty good. Plus, we’ve got a likable lead, great animation, nice moments, and a very solid message. Some things could have been expanded on here and there but otherwise it is quite solid.
It’s an easy recommendation. As for if you should see it in theaters, if you have one open that is taking good precautions, you should. But if you’re still not sure, you shouldn’t force yourself to do so. I wouldn’t do the premiere access thing even if you have money since I don’t wanna support that practice. So if you don’t feel right with going on…guess you’ll have to wait til like June when it comes out on regular Disney+. Ah well, it will be worth the wait.
That’s basically all I got. A pretty good one, not much more to say.
WDAS has done it again, will be interesting to see how Encanto turns out. As for the next general review…no idea, depends on what ends up coming out. My theater handled this very well and the few other people that were in there were thankfully obeying the rules and not being too annoying. So I’d be okay with going out again, it’s just more of an issue of saving as much money as I can.. Might be a while. I’m actually thinking of only doing the animated movies for blog general reviews and saving the live action stuff for Letterboxd. We’ll see.
Either way, hopefully we can join up again soon for another general review. In the meantime, there hopefully will be more movies to enjoy this year.