An animated still from the movie "Moana" voiced by Auli'i Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne Johnson as Maui. photo/Walt Disney Animation Studios/TNS
LISTEN HERE. An animated still from the movie “Moana” voiced by Auli’i Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne Johnson as Maui. photo/Walt Disney Animation Studios/TNS

Following an unlikely heroine’s journey to beat all odds and save the world, Disney’s Moana serves as a beautiful, empowering story of a non-princess that can inspire people to reach their goals, no matter the obstacles.

As a young child, Moana Waialiki  (Auli’i Cravalho) creates a life-like friendship with the ocean. Throughout her early life, she wants to play in the sea and venture past the reef. But her strict father, the chief of the village, and doesn’t allow Maona to leave the island.

Moana’s crazy grandmother (Rachel House, Whale House) tells her an ancient tale about the battle between light and darkness. The story tells of a beautiful goddess who created the ocean and all the islands with the power of her heart, a magical stone. A demi-god, Maui (Dwayne Johnson, Fast and Furious) becomes jealous of her power and steals the heart. Maui does horrible things so the oceans creates a terrible storm that causes him to lose the magical stone as he tries to sail away from the storm. With the stone floating somewhere in the ocean, thousands of monsters and beasts go find the stone and use its power. Without the stone in the goddesses’ body, a darkness starts to cover the world and ruin all life it in its path.   

Suddenly, the darkness causes a small harvest and a shortage of fish to catch on Moana’s island. The ocean gives the magical stone to Moana, because it believes she can return the stone to its rightful place and save the world.  Moana remembers her grandmother’s story and leaves her island to live out the prophecy. The ocean, a mentally challenged chicken, and Maui, who wants to reverse his fate, all help her. Together, they cross the ocean to beat all the odds and save her island, and the world, from darkness.

Accompanying the stunning and life-like animation, the original music adds extra depth and beauty to the movie. Opetia Foa’i, Mark Mancina and Lin Manuel Miranda, composer, creator and star of Hamilton, wrote the original songs that are a lovely addition to the movie, but do not overpower the storyline. Songs like “How Far I’ll Go,” sung by Auli’i Cravalho, and “We Know the Way,” sung by Opetia Foa’i and Lin Manuel Miranda, will surely take place in the Disney Hall of Fame.

The movie shows an appreciation for the Polynesian culture and teaches kids about customs and arts of people around the world. Moana also provides representation for children who do not see characters from their origins.

Moana breaks the classic Disney mold of a prince saving a princess. It is a beautiful culture lesson and action story about a girl saving the world without a romantic partner. Though the movie targets children, even adults can learn something from Moana’s journey. The storyline, visuals and music all tie together perfectly. Moana serves as a powerful reminder that believing in yourself and demanding respect help achieve success, whether it be in day to day life, or saving the whole world.  

The Highlights:

Movie: Moana

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House

Genre: Fantasy/ Action

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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