Moana Review - Awesome, Magical, Gorgeous South Sea Adventure

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Moana, from Walt Disney Animation, brings to the screen a stunning south sea adventure with lush tropical flora and fauna, beautiful crisp blue oceans, breathtaking starry skies, and a Fijian tribe of seafaring adventurers and of course, one demigod.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, and Co-Directed by Chris Williams and Don Hall and was written by Jared Bush with additional story credits going to all directors and Pamela Ribon, Arron Kandell and Jordan Kendell.

Moana stars the voice talent of Auli’l Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne Johnson as Maui. Also staring the voice talent of Rachel House as Gramma Tala, Temuera Morrison as Chief Tui, Jermaine Clement as Tamatoa and Nicole Scherzinger as Sina.

Moana, the daughter of the chief, is born to lead the tribe and from birth was told of the history and customs of the people. The film opens with Moana as a toddler, listening with rapt attention to the haunted story of the ancestors and the demigod Maui who ruled with a mysterious hook.

As the Gramma Tala scares the babies from behind the screen, our Moana crawls out of the hut and with magnetism is pulled to the ocean, where a magical ceremony happens. A conch shell rolls at her feet, an invitation, she picks it up and sees another, as the oceans part, she finally sees a green heart, glowing like jade.

Suddenly Chief Tui, her dad rushes to the oceans as the waves are no place to play unaccompanied. And the water snaps back to its rightful boundaries. Soon Moana is growing up and is given more responsibility.

Then tragedy strikes the tribe as the lagoon is empty, there is no more fish and the fruit is rotten. Under the watchful eye of Chief Tui Moana makes careful decisions to further her peoples’ future which is why she suggest fishing beyond the reef where, in the open sea the fish would be plentiful.   

Her father, the Chief forbids it.

Moana decides she will risk the waves and unforgiving ocean alone. Unable to break past the huge wave crest, her small vessel is shattered against the power of the sea.

Dreading this moment, she decides it is time to lay her stone, her last desire, on the stone mountain of sacrifice. As she begins to climb her beloved Gramma decides its time to share one last piece of history.

What she thought was an empty cave, was actually the resting place of a fleet of ancient ships, the vessels that brought her people, her grandfather and father to his island.

Suddenly Moana realizes the tug in her heart for the seas, for unknown journeys, for the road less traveled, is in her veins. Her ancestors are seafaring people!

Of course, this doesn’t stop the encroaching dark tide which is killing the trees and fish. With one more word of wisdom from her grandmother she charts her own course and decides to save her people she will embark on the most courageous of all journeys and find the demigod Maui and force him into service.

Which is when we meet Maui, whose story we heard in the beginning, he is cast into a sandpit for 1000 years. As our Moana is hit with a wave she lands on shore of what she believes is a deserted island until she sees the odd markings and hears a voice of someone thanking the Gods for her boat?!

What follows is an odd friendship as the two journey through obstacles to restore Maui to his demigod status and to save Moana’s Island.

The two sail across the South Pacific, charting destinations again the darkened, star filled sky. It is a magical awe inspiring journey.

Of course, no Disney animation would be complete without music and with the tribal beat in the beginning to the Maui’s solo to the beat of the ocean, Moana has the heartbeat of the south seas.

Moana is a beautiful tropical journey. The animation is stunning. Crisp, sharp, eye popping colors. Disney has continually taken animation to a higher level and Moana is no different. As Moana sails the ocean the breeze in her hair has it flying gently behind her. It is a sensory experience.

The animation production is painstakingly complete with no detail overlooked or missing, the sails of the ship, the intricate designs, the greens of the lush mountains, the dark haired exotic Fijian people, even the demigod Maui with his road map of tattoos making his accomplishments.

Animation is so intricate and delicate. Each element is indigenous to the tropical region. The flora in the South Sea is different than that of the Caribbean and the scenery reflects it. Each of the story artists are responsible for sketching the details to make the scene genuine.

Having the opportunity to screen Moana at the AFI FILM FEST 2016 presented by Audi which coincided with the World Premiere the Directors greeted the audience and launched the ship as we set sail for the distant land.

Enjoying the culture, imagine the warmth, feel the sand and sea and prepare for a South Sea voyage with Moana!

Moana opens in theaters everywhere November 23, 2016. See it!

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