Moana a Pa­cific ad­ven­ture to trea­sure

Christchurch Mail - - OUT & ABOUT -

I’m not the cor­rect per­son to write about the cul­tural pol­i­tics sur­round­ing Moana.

I am, how­ever, a mad sweaty nerd for an­i­ma­tion, and this gor­geous Poly­ne­sian fam­ily ad­ven­ture is told with a grand­ness that is kind of ex­pected from Dis­ney at this point.

The bare bones of the story are fairly tra­di­tional: an an­cient dark­ness threat­ens to swal­low the world; a young hero is ‘the cho­sen one’; and a mag­i­cal force (in this case, the ocean) works in mys­te­ri­ous ways to make sure the day is saved and lessons are learned.

How­ever, it’s what Dis­ney adds to this blue­print that makes Moana a trea­sure.

As if it’s not sat­is­fy­ing enough see­ing a smart am­bi­tious wahine lead­ing the charge, there’s also no ro­mance – her love is for oceanic ad­ven­ture and for the peo­ple she leads.

Then there’s Dwayne John­son voic­ing a ver­sion of Maui whose tat­toos are cher­ished and used as a fun sto­ry­telling de­vice.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two leans a bit too hard on them an­noy­ing the crap out of each other, though it never goes the full Shrek-n-Don­key. For­tu­nately, there’s a rooster named Hei­hei who’s neck-n-neck with Find­ing Dory‘ s Ger­ald for Best Car­toon Dumb-Dumb of the Year.

The songs from Lin-Manuel Moana (PG) Di­rected by Ron Cle­ments and John Musker Star­ring Dwayne John­son, Auli’i Cravalho, Te­muera Mor­ri­son. 107 mins Mi­randa and Opetaia Foa’i are mighty.

The har­monies in Where You Are will ig­nite the cold­est heart; We Know the Way is a stir­ring in­tro­duc­tion to Moana’s an­ces­try; and made the hair on my goose­bumps stand up. You’re Wel­come doesn’t fare as well, a lyri­cally clever but awk­wardly flat-sound­ing tune, while the Je­maine Cle­ment-sung Shiny is a hu­mor­ous and catchy num­ber that ends up be­ing clut­tered by a vis­ually-busy ac­tion scene.

The mu­sic tri­umphs when it si­mul­ta­ne­ously em­braces tra­di­tions and em­barks from the norm – a qual­ity that em­pow­ers the whole film.

Fea­tur­ing the voices of Dwayne John­son and Auli’i Cravalho, Moana si­mul­ta­ne­ously em­braces tra­di­tions and em­barks from the norm.

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