📽️ Disney Time – Moana

List Item:  Watch The Disney Animated Canon
Progress: 56/58Title: Moana
Year: 2016

Watching Moana on the seat back of a long haul flight really does not do it justice. The same can be said of most films that try to do anything overly aesthetic or awe-inspiring, but watching this in high definition did a lot to close the opinion gap between this and ZootopiaI think I still prefer Zootopia, but it isn’t as cut and dry as it used to be.

Where Zootopia was Disney flexing the Pixar muscles, Moana is a much more traditional Disney story featuring a female heir (technically not a princess in this instance), songs and a lovable animal sidekick. It ticks all these stereotype boxes of a Disney princess movie, but this develops and improves on the work done by Frozen to smash them.

For one thing, there is no love interest other than Moana’s love for her people and her own dreams. The film is about her own journey towards maturation and unlike all the princess films that have come before, there is no man at the end of this journey for her to end up with. You also have a complete subversion of the animal sidekick, who is usually smarter than the typical animal (think Meeko the Racoon from Pocahontas) and instead you have a chicken who might very well be dumber than the average chicken.

Speaking of Pocahontas, given that many of the cast are native Hawaiians or are of Polynesian descent, this is how you do a film with cultural sensitivity and not end up with a song like ‘Savages’. I guess that Disney have since learned from the mistakes of Pocahontas and instead put the proper time and effort in to make something that celebrates and has fun with Polynesian mythology and history rather than a film that ages poorly. The fact that the story takes inspiration and tries to explain a period of history where Polynesian peoples stopped sailing for 1000 years (for which we have no explanation) is especially excellent.

Other than ‘How Far I’ll Go’ the songs aren’t especially memorable, but that’s fine as they’re mostly there for mood and story than meme purposes. I mean, this is a film that contains a song inspired by the music of Flight of the Conchords and actually has Jermaine Clement singing it, how can you not enjoy that? Especially as he’s playing a sociopathic, gold-obsessed crab.

I know that by the time that this post goes up I will have seen Frozen 2 in the cinemas 5-6 months earlier, but I think I can make a bold claim – 2016 is the peak of the current post-renaissance Disney and I really hope that their 2020 film, which is the first film they have released in 4 years that is an original intellectual property, can continue the work done by Moana and Zootopia.

So that’s the final disc of the collection polished off. Next up will be Ralph Breaks The Internet which we had to purchase separately in order to fill in the gap left in the box set. It’s going to be interesting for me as this is the first (and probably only) time that I will be writing about the same film twice in this blog. The first time being my Best Animated Feature post about the 2019 Academy awards. I wonder how it will do during a re-watch.

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