Moana | Review

MOANA released on Boxing Day and took the world by storm. Disney returned to form and gave the world the happy escapism it needed to end one pile of a dogpoop year. MOANA sees a new and true Disney princess to join the ranks with Pocahontas, Meridal, Jasmie, Leia and others. It follows their core princess themes and is one of their best films since BRAVE. BIG HERO 6 is one of their best of all time for me but it doesn’t follow the princess theme so excluding it. MOANA is well and truly out and still slaying these holidays. It is rated PG and runs for 107 way to swift minutes.


Little Moana Connecting with the Ocean image




MOANA is a Polynesian princess destined to lead her tribe of Island-bound people. Their island is surrounded by a reef and the chief, Moana’s father, has forbid anyone from trying to cross the reef. Moana has a relationship with the ocean itself and the early scene (above) that we discover this is connection is incredibly private and special. It will endear you to Moana and her pending greatness for the entire film. The ocean basically lets you know big things are coming for Moana in one simple and beautiful scene.

Crops are drying up, the ocean is losing its fish and the world is coming undone. Could it be the undoing from the unintelligent act of heroism from one of the area’s demigods, Maui? Maui stole the heart of the mountain and lost it and his magic fishing hook. He has been banished to an island in the middle of the ocean as punishment without any ways of escape.

Moana has duties that her father insists she does to become the princess of the tribe but her heart is drawn to the ocean. And like all Disney princesses with an odd collection of animals, she will defy her father to follow her heart. And so begins the wonderful ocean bound musical adventure that has me longing for the Pacific Ocean.


Moana sailing image



Disney has truly returned to their heart and soul of animations and MOANA reminds me of so many hand-drawn wonders from my youth. Moana herself looks hand-drawn with the return of larger eyes but she is also created with a realistic proportioned figure. The movie itself is voiced by mainly all Polynesian actors, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Maui. Polynesians consulted from go to woe on this movie and the authenticity and mystical spiritualism of the people is embedded in the movie.

No wonder I loved it so much – it has four main directors involved in the making but the two lead directors are Ron Clements and Don Hall. You may have heard of them both, Clements wrote and directed THE LITTLE MERMAID and ALADDIN. Hall directed my most recent favourite Disney movie, BIG HERO 6. The two of them are a power duo bringing the best of old school animation to the best of current animations. And while Clements and Hall had a hand in the writing the bulk of the screenplay goes to Jared Bush. Bush wrote the recent and hugely successful ZOOTOPIA.

The animation of MOANA is next level, the realism in so many scenes will have you with mouth wide-open in wonder.


Another thing MOANA works wonders with is its subtle environmental message that threads through the movie. If you take the heart from the mountain, or Mother Nature (basically), the world will retaliate. Stuff up the planet and things won’t go good for you. Look after Mother Nature and the lands will be plentiful, the seas full of fish. Treat her like crap and you will see black monsters spewing fire and ash, sounds like industrialism to me. It’s in your face but it never spells it out to you. Loved this! Subliminally education kids through awesome animation and logic – it’s perfect.


Maui and Moana image



The cast is superb, most of the cast is relatively unknown except for a few key players. Moana herself is newcomer, Auli’i Cravalho, a beautiful young talent who looks exactly like Moana. Her singing voice is angelic and true to form for Disney, they picked a star with her. Dwayne Johnson nails Maui, I have to say, my favourite role of his EVER – he is just hysterical, over the top and wondrous. And his singing will blow your mind, his big number is one of the best songs in the movie. 

Jemaine Clement nails the shiny evil crab Tamatoa. Clement is known for FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS and the musical number with Tamatoa is called SHINY. It’s a wonderful tribute song to David Bowie and THE LITTLE MERMAID.

You may also recognise the voice talents of Temuera Morrison as Chief Tui, Moana’s father.


Tamatoa and Moana image



I have tried not to speak too much about the movie, because it needs to be experienced. It is hysterical, powerful, visual and moving. If I had seen this before the New Year it would have made my Top 20 for 2016. It will win a few Oscars this year and you need to see this one with the entire family. While you’re at it pre-order it on DVD/ Blu Ray, while not as musical as FROZEN, the kidlets will want to watch this on loop, and trust me, you won’t mind in the slightest. The perfect Summer movie for Australia. Bravo!





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.