Monday, August 7, 2017

Now on Netflix: Moana (2016)

Moana (2016) - Directed by Ron Clements, John Musker; Starring Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk.

By Kenny Howell

Gorgeous animation and good voice work lead this story about a Polynesian princess trying to set her people free from an ancient curse.

Moana's island has been cursed because a demigod with a magic hook named Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson (Pain & Gain), stole the heart of the goddess Te Fiti, the one who made all the islands. However, while he was escaping, a lava monster knocked the heart away from him, which was lost in the ocean for years.

Someone needs to take it back, and the ocean, which reaches out and takes care of Moana, picks her. She hunts down Maui, and the duo try to work together to take the heart, which is kind of like a glowing green gem, back to its rightful owner.

Moana is a pretty straight forward brave princess story, and Auli'i Cravalho does an excellent job in her voice work of the young girl. Johnson comes along as the comic relief, and is charm shows through even while not seeing his infectious smile. Everything would be pretty much standard fare if it wasn't for the beautiful animation. The animators had a blast with all the earth tones, as the blues of the ocean and green of the islands just pops off the screen.

The songs, by lyricist of the minute Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), are a bit underwhelming, failing to get that tune that sticks with you long after you watch it, something that has kept Frozen going for a few years now. Luckily, it lends itself to just having on from time to time at home (it's on Netflix now), because it's hard to take your eyes away when its on the screen.

Moana is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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