I must say Walt Disney Studios sure knows how to present strong female leads in their animated movies. The female character I most remember from a Disney film who was strong and would not be deterred from her life’s mission was Merida from the 2012 film “Brave”.
Joining Merida in the category of strong female animated characters is Moana from the new film “Moana”. Moana ( Auli’i Cravalho) is the daughter of the chief of a Polynesian tribe, who knows, even as a toddler, that she has an undeniable attraction to the sea even though her father is determined to keep her from straying beyond the reef.
The story of the film is based on Polynesian mythology and tells us the story of how the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) stole a small pounaum (a form of jade) stone in order to harness its power. However, when Maui is confronted by the lave demon Te Ka, Maui looses the stone along with his magical fishhook. The main problem with Maui’s theft of the stone is how it has brought darkness to the island where Moana and her tribe live. Fish the tribe depends on are becoming scarce and coconuts are spoiling, leaving the islanders at the brink of disaster. Moana is convinced she must go beyond the reef and take the newfound pounaum stone with her to confront Maui in an effort to set everything right once more so her tribe will not starve. While on her journey to find Maui she is accompanied by her pet rooster Heihei, who has a pea sized brain, driven home by his antics. The two eventually make it to the island where Maui has taken up residence, and the fluffy-haired demigod wants no part of Moana’s request. In fact, Maui is so self-absorbed he tries to ignore the “living” tattoos on his body that are attempting to tell him Moana is correct in her demands. Eventually Maui is convinced to help Moana, but not before he steals her boat in a horribly failed effort to escape from our hero. The two, with the rooster in tow, set out for Moana’s island and all runs smoothly until they run across some coconut pirates (!) and the lava demon Te Ka.
After the aforementioned interactions end well for our duo, Moana and her fellow villagers are soon sailing the open ocean in an effort to find new islands to inhabit, while Maui passes over them in hawk form. This animated film is beautiful, and while the film is considered a musical, is not overwhelmed with songs. In other words, the rooster never sings. While Moana is a really strong presence in the film, every scene she shares with Maui is stolen by the boisterous demigod. I recommend seeing the film in 3D, even though in most cases you can see a film in 2D with not much difference, this film, with its popping colors and brilliant animated scenery, is a must see in the 3D format. Overall, “Moana” is a breathtaking animated film that is a delight for movie fans of all ages.
(Rated PG) 3 1/2 coconuts (out of 4)