Stars: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk, Louise Bush, Oscar Kightley, Troy Polamalu.
Director: Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker & Chris Williams.
Screenplay: Jared Bush
There has been many times in my life that I have had a knot in my throat while watching a movie but this is the first time because I am just so incredibly happy at what I am seeing. I am so happy because for the first time I am seeing a Pacific Island story on the Hollywood screen. I am seeing our story on the screen, I get to see where my ancestors started within their journey of voyaging across the South Pacific seas. I get to see the demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) in his exuberant style and a strong young woman paving the way for her people; Moana (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho).
I have head the stories of Maui, or rather the Māori versions of his stories from slowing down the sun and fishing up the North island (Te Ika a Maui) but to see how he is not just a figure of Māori culture but of all polynesian culture is quite comforting. To know that we are all connected even if there is all that ocean between us, I don't know it's quite overwhelming.
Now to the actual movie, sheer Disney fun with amazing songs and a strong finding yourself story. The visuals are stunning, the water looks incredible and the greens of the islands is something of envy. The animation team made one beautiful film. What really made this film stand apart from the other Disney musicals is that there is not one hint of a romantic interest. There is no need for Moana to think of anything else other than her love for the ocean, her grandma Tala (voiced by Rachel House—who I love dearly as an actress), and her people.
She is a true heroine and that stays valid as she does not automatically succeed, Moana fails a lot during this film. She is allowed to as her heroine arc allows her to gain her skills through her determination. She also lets people help her, she is not afraid to have people by her side which almost stops her from succeeding until she realises she was chosen for this journey for a reason. With similar elements to the classic Whale Rider, she is the chosen leader for her people to connect them back to what makes her people them, connect back to who their ancestors were.
The final message is not one of the past but of the future. Our world may be dying from our own ignorance in the harm we can do to her but it is now up to us to place the heart back to her, we humans, not the gods have the power to bring back the natural balance to the world we live in.