Movie Review: Moana

9.5/10 Stars

Moana was a much anticipated film to come in November. It’s a coming of age story that follows a girl named Moana from the island of Motuanui. Together with the demigod, Maui, Moana must sail across the sea to restore the heart of Tefeti. It was originally stolen by Maui, but was lost after Tekka, an evil lava monster struck him down. This beautifully animated journey quickly became a Disney classic. There are several things this film did well and many reasons why this is a must see.

What made Moana stand out from previous Disney films were the characters. Each one of them had human flaws and internal conflicts that make them seem more real. For Moana, she struggled with leaving the island because she loved the sea but also her people. She had to leave the island so that it and the world would be saved. For that world and for Moana, it is a very realistic conflict. Sometimes it takes that one person doing something different to make a change in the world. The demigod, Maui has his conflicts too. He is supposed to be the hero of mankind, but he dooms it by stealing the heart of Tefeti. It is evident that he refuses to believe this even when Moana tells him that he’s nobody’s hero. There are also other internal struggles that Maui has with himself. Since he seeks out the love his parents never gave him, he did all he could to receive the love of others. He also feels as though he is nothing with his hook, which was given to him by the gods. It allows him to shape shift into various creatures. Moana later tells him that the gods didn’t make him Maui, but rather his love for man did.

Their journey is beautifully animated and the flaws of the characters constantly play a role in the film. Maui’s lack of confidence in Moana eventually leads him to stop believing in her ability to restore the heart. The pressure of trying to save the world also nearly gets to Moana and she almost returns home, but cannot when she knows that her precious island is dying. Her love for her people drives her to do things that she normally would not have done like travel to the realm of monsters in search of Maui’s beloved fish hook. A place where she nearly loses her life several times. It’s only thanks to her quick thinking that her and Maui escape the realm of monsters alive because Maui’s shortcomings are what nearly doom them. 

However, the characters are not the only thing that make this movie great, but Moana’s design and message really set things off right. For one, Moana’s perhaps the first Disney princess that is properly proportioned. She isn’t too thin and she actually looks healthy. The same can be said for all of the other characters that appear in the film. On top of that, Moana’s hair has realistic expectations. Instead of flowing beautifully behind her, it seems to constantly find its way wrapped around her face. Disney has left behind the unrealistic expectation that hair will behave no matter the conditions and that not all women are stick thin. They come in all sizes and that’s okay. Disney did a fantastic job in setting a new standard for its Disney princesses and we hope to see more like Moana in the future. 

While this film still had its flaws, they aren’t really detrimental to the film and hardly worth mentioning. There are some things left to be desired, but there are several different opinions on what exactly they all were so it’s best left to the viewer. Moana comes out on DVD and Blu-ray March 17th. Be sure to grab your very own copy. We know we will be! Or hurry while it’s still in theaters! You won’t be disappointed.