Many many years ago, the demi-god Maui stole the heart of the Mother Island, Ti Fiti, starting a plague of death and decay. Legends say that one day a hero will travel beyond the lagoon, find Maui, and force him to return the heart, thus breaking the curse and saving mankind.
Moana grows up hearing such stories from her grandmother (the self-proclaimed “village crazy lady” :)) and it leaves her with an urge to explore the giant, unknowable blue beyond their paradise island lagoon’s safe barrier. Unfortunately, not crossing that barrier is the one rule of the island – and given that Moana is being primed to take over from her father as the island’s chief, breaking the rules isn’t really an option.
Faced with a choice between her head and her heart, what can Moana choose?
I always go into animated movies with slight trepidation: even if the reviews are good, are they kid-movie good, or movie-movie good? I’m pleased to report that Moana was the latter, and I got exactly what I was looking for: some light-hearted fun, lots of giggles, and minimal saccharine.
First off, I really loved that we’re getting a legend from a different culture rather than yet another European Grimm rehash. Moana is very much in the ‘new’ Disney princess mold: strong, opinionated, and not the size of a twig. And Polynesian.
I also really liked the humour. Maui is voiced by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who does a wonderful job of sending himself up by making the character ridiculously full of himself. And then there’s the chicken. Seriously. Loved that chicken! 🙂
The story doesn’t stray too far from what you’d expected, with themes of finding your inner strength, self-belief, etc, but all done nicely with next to no saccharine. I’d very happily watch this again – and there is no higher praise for an animated movie, I think!
Released: 2nd December 2016
Viewed: 17th January 2017
Running time: 107 minutes
My rating: 8/10