Reel Geek Review-Moana (Guest Review By Caitlin Helveston

Hey guys, Reel Geek here, and one of the most talked about movies this past holiday season was Moana.  Unfortunately, this site doesn’t pay the bills just yet, so there are going to be things that slip under my radar, this movie was one of them.  Thankfully it didn’t slip under Caitlin’s radar, who saw it, and wanted to talk about it here.  Check out her review of Disney’s Moana.

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Moana is a Polynesian Princess created by Disney, that follows the great legend of Maui, the Demi-God, who stole the heart of Te Fiti. This movie features the Polynesian culture and a tribe who live on an Island. The plot follows the legend of the Demi-God Maui that is known within the Polynesian people. Disney has made a lot of incredible movies and people have been requesting Disney to make another Princess story just as they did for Brave, an Irish Princess. They had already made several different princess movies between the 80’s and 90’s and it was time to expand their coverage. As the world expands on accepting other cultures, it was only right for Hollywood to show the beauty in diversity.

Overall, I was excited for a new Disney Princess movie to come out and see how well they had incorporated the culture into the movie. I loved Disney growing up and still do. Everyone was anxious to see how well done the movie was because Disney usually creates something beautiful and exciting. After watching this movie for a second time, I just knew I had to do a review on it. The protagonist, Moana, and antagonist, Maui, worked well together as a characters and though there is a struggle between Moana and Maui, they eventually learn to work together and team up to beat the God of fire who is actually the Goddess Te Fiti. As well as the struggle between the characters, the music within this movie was incredible. The songs are very well written and produced and shows the artist’s creation through his combination of lyrics and culture friendly rhythms. This movie is funny, humble, sad, honest, and colorful. Here are my thoughts on this masterpiece:

The movie begins with a beautiful view into Moana’s island, Motunui, and is a humble contribution to the Polynesian culture that stays true to the to the Disney stigma of teaching lessons and having a moral of the story. Moana begins well and does not fail as the movie goes on. Not only was this movie beautiful it featured traditional Polynesian practices such as the food, culture, music, the tattoos that they choose, their spiritual beliefs, and history. The movie was based of the legend of Maui, the great Demigod, who stole the heart of Te Fiti and brought darkness to the Islands. This legend was wonderfully produced within the story line. The story was entertaining for younger children and adults because it showed a struggle and life journey of a future chief. Although this is a Disney movie, it educated the public on some of the Polynesian History as well as the legend.

Now, getting into the story itself. The main character Moana, experiences a struggle within herself of taking on the duties as the future chief and staying true to who she really is. Moana was chosen by the sea as a child to find Maui and give back the heart to the green goddess, Te Fiti. Her father, Chief Tui, does not like her traveling into the sea and begs her to stay on the island. Her mother, Suni, feels the same at first but eventually sees that Moana is unhappy and helps her on her chosen journey.

Moana spends the rest of her childhood attempting to wander into the sea and discover what the ocean entails. Her grandmother, Grandma Tala, guides Moana to the sea because she knows it’s her chosen path. She pushes Moana to follow her heart and chose who she is really meant to be. Moana struggles with who her people were and discovers that they were voyagers. As her first duty as future chief, she mentions fishing beyond the reef because the fish have disappeared around the island. Her father forbids this, but discovering they were voyagers, she chooses to go out into the sea to save her people. This is the first step in Moana’s path of discovering her true self. She knows that she must stay true to her heart and discovers who she wants to be.

The writers presented Moana’s bravery through her decisions and travels. Moana is willing to venture out into the sea to save her people despite the fact that she does not know how to sail. I felt that this was very brave of her character and liked how the writers presented her. On her travels, she embarks on many obstacles and discovers that the chicken HeiHei has followed her onto her boat. The chicken is the perfect mix of special and funny that creates a light environment while she is out at sea. On her journey she gets lost several times, but the ocean leads the way for her. Yes, the ocean can move by itself, pick her up, and give direction. Isn’t that amazing? She’s in a magical ocean.

Anyway, she finally finds Maui and her first impression of him is rather put off. He comes off as conceited and self-centered. This does not present his character in a friendly or likeable way and he is then considered the antagonist. Eventually, he is humbled and earns his likeableness. Maui attempts to steal Moana’s boat and sail to get his magic hook back, but that plan fails. Moana is led back to her boat by the sea and attempts to take control. He attempts to reject her from the boat several times, but the sea does not allow this.

What is great about this movie, is that Maui opens up about his feelings to Moana as he gets to know her. He decides to teach her how to sail and help her in her battles. Maui is not just a villain, deep down is someone who just wants to be loved and humbled. He makes choices for the good of others, for the people. I liked the direction that the writers took Maui in. He came off as comical, conceited, but very humble. We later learn that his parents had abandoned him and this allows the viewer to gain some sympathy. Maui is seen as a human and less as a Demi-God which adds some light to his character and allows him to become likeable.

The “Bad Guys” in this movie are actually pretty goofy and make her journey a little comical. I like this feature and how they brought light to Moana’s journey. The coconuts or Kakamora, are funny but ruthless. Moana and Maui experience their first road block by the Kakamora, Coconuts who  are attempting to steal the heart of Te Fiti. Moana smirks saying they are kinda cute and then they turn into crazy, mean, and frightful beings with angry faces. During their encounter with the Kakamora, Maui gives her commands to take control of the boat, but she does not know what he is talking about. The Kakamora, Coconut Warrior’s, are vicious little dudes who are ruthless about stealing the heart of Te Fiti. He scolds her for being self taught and attempts to pull them off to safety. There journey continues and they slowly grow friendly and begin to trust each other. Moana and Maui become friends as they motivate each other, lift each other up, and help each other on their journey.

 

While they are sailing out at sea, the story does not lose it’s power. The writer’s showed how Moana and Maui grow to trust each other while out at sea. He reveals a personal story about his parents, agrees to help Moana, and she agrees to help him. This contributes to the overall greatness of the story. It shows how a stuck up person who thinks he is so great is willing to listen and admit that he needs help. When Moana and Maui finally arrive at Te Fiti they are faced by the demi-god of Fire and lava. They must fight their way in and trick this Demi-God to restore the heart of Te Fiti. Moana sees the spiral in the Demi-God’s chest and realizes that that’s where the heart belongs. She asks the sea to let the Demi-God come to her and places the heart in her chest. After returning the Heart of Te Fiti, to Te Fiti, the livelihood to the island comes back, the green comes back, crops begin to grow, and the darkness disappears.

The music for this movie was incredibly well done and deserves lots of attention. Although some of the scores are little, they contribute to the plot of the story greatly. The music is beautiful and catchy. The music sounds as if it was written on an island and not in a studio. The music brought me to tears several times and brought the movie to life. As the Polynesian’s, Moana, Maui, and other’s moved or danced, the music moved with them.  My favorite song from the movie is, “You’re Welcome.” Within the first few minutes of meeting Maui, he sings this song to Moana, to display his greatness and accomplishments as a Demi-God. Here is a Youtube video from the movie with Maui singing, “You’re Welcome”,

 

Overall, this movie brought me to tears several times for its beauty, purity, and the songs. This movie was extremely well done and is definitely worth seeing. The animations were very lifelike which made this experience even greater. I felt that the combination of characters brought the story to life and made it a greater experience. It was funny, humble, brilliant, and adventurous.  

 

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