The Rock. Music by Lin-Manuel Miranda. One half of the Flight of the Conchords team voicing a psychedelic crab. Disney. There isn’t much not to like here.
The latest (and one of the better additions) to a long line of Disney princesses, Moana (newcomer Auli’I Cravalho) ventures far from her Pacific Island and father, also the local Chief (Mahana’s Temeura Morrison) to meet demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson in fine form) and fulfil a prophecy to bring prosperity to her people.
Plucky sidekick in tow (Alan Tudyk continuing his string of hilarious voice roles as Moana’s chicken Heihei), Director Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) has again delivered a modern classic for young and old alike. With the joyous rhythms of Hamilton star Miranda’s score matched only by Jemaine Clement’s hilariously offbeat monster-crustacean, it’s still the well-matched famous (and not so famous) lead cast members who shine above all. Whether taking on a pirate horde, learning to sail or traversing endless expansions of ocean, the formula here will not be unfamiliar to Disney or Pixar fans for that matter, yet whereas the latter only a few years ago commanded the lion’s share of attention for their innovative work, it’s Disney who have now established themselves as the giant of old, delivering one reliable flick after another.
The boundless sense of adventure central to Clements’ earlier projects is too on full display in Moana; the feeling of timeless joy characterizing the best of Disney’s efforts similarly no small part of their latest. Nominated for Best Animated Feature alongside Kubo and the Two Strings and Zootopia, in any other year Moana would be a virtual lock, similarly facing stiff competition in the Best Original Song category with Miranda’s ‘How Far I’ll Go’ up against two hits from La La Land.
However it fares in weeks to come, Moana is just that treat which anyone and everyone, regardless of age, can enjoy.
Moana is in cinemas now