A peaceful ancient Polynesian town has been silently ignoring tales told of a terrible curse sweeping across the ocean. However when the curse reaches the island leaving the people without fresh fruit or fish the chieftain’s daughter Moana (Auli’I Cravalho) is forced to venture beyond the reef to restore balance to the ocean.
Moana is quite simply Disney animation firing on all cylinders and reaching Frozen-level form yet again. Gone are the days where Pixar effortlessly exudes dominance over the animation industry as Moana proves by, in my opinion, being the better film when compared to Finding Dory.
Dwayne Johnson continues to prove he is nothing short of a national treasure as the nicest man in Hollywood (sorry Tom Hanks) shows off both his comedy and singing chops to wonderful effect. Elsewhere Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Rachel House shines as the almost Oogway-like wise old woman of the island, as does Auli’I Cravalho in the title role. I’d also like to give a special mention to Jermaine Clement for the greatest villain song ever.
The animation for Moana is nothing short of spectacular. It tackles two substances that are famously difficult to animate (water and hair) and makes them seem completely natural. It also displays I think the first time I’ve ever seen an animation of lava hitting water and moving about, I can now tell you all that it’s absolutely majestic, and actually quite scary when formed into a monster as Moana does.
Overall, the film perhaps suffers from a possibly too linear a plot and Disney themselves haven’t quite figured out how to reach the emotional heights reached by an on form Pixar. But for my money Moana is the best western animation of 2016.