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Moana Waialiki is a sea voyaging enthusiast and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her island's fishermen can't catch any fish and the crops fail, she learns that the demigod Maui caused the blight by stealing the heart of the goddess, Te Fiti. The only way to heal the island is to persuade Maui to return Te Fiti's heart, so Moana sets off on an epic journey across the Pacific. The film is based on stories from Polynesian mythology. Written by
Moana's island is called Motu Nui. In several Polynesian languages, particularly that of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), "Motu" means "island" and "nui" means "big." At least two real-life Pacific islands are named Motu Nui: one is just off Easter Island, the other is in French Polynesia. Both are less than a thousand feet across. See more »
When Moana is a baby, her pet pig is a baby. Later on in the movie, Moana is all grown up, and the pig is still a baby. See more »
In the beginning there was only ocean until the Mother Island emerged. Te Fiti. Her heart held the greatest power ever known. It could create life itself. And Te Fiti shared it with the world. But in time, some began to seek Te Fiti's heart. They believed if they could possess it, the great power of creation would be theirs. And one day, the most daring of them all voyaged across the vast ocean to take it. He was a demi-god of the wind and sea. He was a warrior. A trickster. A ...
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Much like Big Hero 6 the title for the movie does not appear until the ending of the film. See more »
Visually beautiful, but problems with plot and characterization cause this movie to stumble.
I have been largely unimpressed with Disney's recent animated movies, and many of my criticisms with them hold true with Moana. Looking back at Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia, and Frozen, it seems to me that Disney is more interested in building a visually beautiful world than building a great story. This is true with Moana. The animation is wonderful. The world is gorgeous. The story, however, is rather dull and shallow.
The world is by design fairly sparse. There aren't a lot of characters in this movie. So to make up for that, the story or the characters need to be particularly compelling. Unfortunately, they aren't.
Disney breaks no new ground with Moana's story. That isn't new for Disney, and to be fair, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Many good movies are just well-done re-imaginings of classic stories. But Moana isn't even that. At every step of the way, I couldn't shake a feeling that I'd seen it all before. The story never gripped me nor did it leave me feeling fulfilled. Thus, the film just feels empty.
If either Moana or Maui were engaging characters, this movie could have been good. Despite a good performance from Auli'i Cravalho, Moana had a very small character arc. She was not that different a person at the end of the film than she was at the beginning. For much of the film, she had very little agency of her own. The plot seemed to carry her along, rather than she driving the plot.
Maui did everything he could to cause the plot to stall. This could have been great, as his antagonistic attempts to stop the main character could have worked as the central conflict. But since Moana is rarely actually trying to move the plot forward, the conflict just seems to be her-vs-him, which is mildly interesting at best.
It's a shame. Moana could have been such a good movie. But it suffers from the same failings as most recent Disney animated ventures: wonderfully crafted world without a story worthy of that world.
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