For Reel

Moana (2016)
February 26, 2017, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

Director(s): Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker & Chris Williams
3.5 Stars
moanaTeasing the plucky girl who has traveled far to request his help, Maui (Dwayne Johnson) argues that, “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess!” If Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) indeed meets the conditions of her archetypes and the film itself is a rather typical hero’s journey (it is directed by old Disney hands John Musker and Ron Clements), Moana is progressive regardless in a way that doesn’t become overbearing or too self-congratulatory. It is important that Moana has no love interst and that it is a topic of conversation that is never really engaged. Beyond her self-dependence, however, her quest to upend the conservatism of the elders in her community by breaking known “truths” demonstrates something beyond the mythos of “destiny” and offers a message about how women can pave the way for the future. In the way that she confronts the lava monster Te Ka, it becomes clear that brute force or even cleverness is not the most admirable of qualities that should be attributed to a hero (which Maui, in addition to his arrogance, has in spades). Rather, Moana is about how empathy is the guiding force in defending against evils, with Moana’s heart serving as the ultimate weapon. The film does not undermine her own formidabilities, but rather distinguishes her as a fully-rounded, ever-adaptable heroine.

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