Thursday, January 05, 2017

Moana

I'm not one of those people who feverishly keeps up with every new development at Disney, but I do pay attention because some of my favorite movies are Disney films. I do have a lot of fond memories of the Disney Princess movies too, though that might be surprising to some who know my tastes.

But the thing is, I really love modern princess stories. They have a bit of a formula, and a certain set of tropes. But the modern princess story can be really amazing, and thoroughly enjoyable when done correctly.

Moana is a princess story done correctly, and it is thoroughly enjoyable. It's also a fantastic example of the finest in the "Disney movie" style, as well as just being a really good film on it's own merits.

I knew that Disney was working on Moana, and I'd seen a few pictures, but it wasn't until the first trailer was released that I started to get really interested. And it didn't hurt that Dwayne Johnson was involved, and posted a video of him recording his lines as Maui as a message on The Rock Clock.

Plus I just really was looking for a good, optimistic, happy story. I'm just in a mood for more good emotions in my entertainment, and it looked like it would fit the bill. So I made some time about a week after it opened to go to the theater, and I am so glad I saw it on the big screen.

You've probably read a million things about how amazing and lush the animation is, and those things are all true. Nearly every second is beautiful and inspiring.

You've probably also read about the songs but I'll take a second to talk about them because I can't believe how much I love the soundtrack to this movie. I haven't been this obsessed with a Disney soundtrack in a very long time, probably since The Lion King. I loved a lot of songs in other movies, but there's only one music cue in the entire soundtrack that I'm not 100% in love with, and that's because it's 90% instead. Honestly, if We Know The Way isn't nominated for best song, then the Academy is officially insane.



What you can also see in this clip is one of my favorite things in the movie, and that's the way they show the characters moving. I noticed it at multiple points in the movie the way that they animated dance and movements taken from traditional dances from Pacific Island cultures. I'm not a historian, and I'm especially not a historian of dance styles, but it's something that interests me and I was thrilled to see it peppered throughout the film. I had a similar reaction to the way that the traditional tattoos of their culture were discussed. This was a Disney princess movie where we not only see a character getting a tattoo, but between Grandma Tala and Maui there is a lot of talk about the significant of them. The fact that they didn't leave that out really impressed me, because I could see Disney wanting to sanitize that part.

The movie is fun, it's paced perfectly, it's got a good message (more than one actually), likable characters, and it elicits genuine emotions. Pretty much every metric I could apply to it, it passes the test.

I could go through and try to argue with some of the dissenters that have come out to complain about it. I especially would love to spend a lot of time taking apart the inane arguments made by the panelists on one of my favorite podcasts, but I don't feel like even acknowledging it.

Moana is inspiring, it's enjoyable, and it's just a lovely movie. I highly recommend it.

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