New Disney Film Moana Worth Seeing


The Voice Staff

On November 23, Disney released its newest animated picture, Moana, animated with CGI, computer-generated imagery.  Moana is a fantasy and action animation of a young Hawaiian girl who has a special connection with the ocean and journeys to find why the ocean has named her the “chosen” one in order to save her beloved home.

The movie was written and directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. It is their first computer-animated film. Their past projects, which all featured hand-drawn animation, include The Great Mouse Detective (1986), The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), Hercules (1997), and The Princess and the Frog (2009).

Hawaiian-native Auli’i Cravalho was the voice of Moana, and at age 14, is the youngest person to record a voice for a Disney princess. Dwayne Johnson also known as “The Rock” was the voice of Maui. He is known for The Fast and the Furious, G.I Joe, WWE Raw, and Wrestle Mania. Other main voices in the animation were Rachel House (Gramma Tala), Temuera Morrison (Chief Tui), Jemaine Clement (Tamatoa), and Nicole Scherzinger (Sina).

Opening weekend at the box office, the movie made over $56 million and spent its first three weeks as number one.  So far, in its first five weeks, the film has made $328 million.  

On December 13, the Wildcat Voice staff saw the film together at Atlas Cinemas.  

Alyssa Mirrosay enjoyed the movie’s range of emotions. “It gave me a good laugh and at times maybe a tear. This movie is one of my recommended ones to watch.”

Tandyn Hirsch said that the movie’s suspenseful fights, heartwarming ending, and upbeat songs are what make audiences like it.

While some have praised Disney for the move away from stereotypical princesses who fall in love, some, like staff writer Shrinidhi Shah, might miss the romance. “I thought the movie had an impressive plot but I wish there was some love interest.”

Voice staffer Alexandra Kucmanic praised the CGI but questioned the quantity of music. She said, “The animation was smooth and flowed well, and art was captivating to the eye, but the number of songs felt rushed and forced, and didn’t fit in the movie well.”

Tifannee Vanderhoff, however, thought the soundtrack was very good. “The songs used in Moana were a perfect fit for the movie. They really made the movie cute and fun.”  Some of her favorite songs from the movie were “You’re Welcome” sung by Maui, “How Far I’ll Go” sung by Moana, and “Shiny” sung by the crab.

Other songs on the soundtrack are

  • I am Moana
  • Tulou Tagaloa  
  • An Innocent Warrior
  • Where You Are
  • How far I’ll Go
  • We Know the Way
  • You’re Welcome
  • Shiny
  • Logo Te Pate
  • Know Who You Are

The movie received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song for the song “How Far I’ll Go,” written by Lin-Manuel Miranda—famed writer of the hit musical Hamilton who was recently named Entertainer of the Year by the Associated Press.  According to IMDB, Miranda was actually signed to write the music for Moana before Hamilton became a worldwide phenomenon.

The film has also been praised for its depiction of Hawaii.  Director Ron Clements actually visited the South Pacific to gain insight and artistic inspiration.  He tried to capture the history and values of the people he met there in the film—especially in regard to their respect for the sea and pride in their ancestral practice of wayfaring.

Critic Nick DeSemlyn said, “A crowd-pleasing oceanic musical with big tunes and beguiling characters, Moana is likely to thwack a big smile on your face. And did we mention the idiotic chicken?”

The ratings from Rotten Tomatoes show that Moana is recommended by 95% of users, and IMDb has given the movie a rating 8.1/10.

With a runtime of 1 hour, 43 minutes, rated PG, the movie does offer some intense or suspenseful scenes as well as monsters that could be potentially frightening for very young audiences. But the movie has a wide appeal.  The movie features the cute, feel-good, and humorous moments one would expect from a Disney film but also features some action scenes and suspense.  A ship of coconut-armored pirates, a giant crab, a lava monster, and a realm of monsters will keep older audiences interested, and the themes of family, loyalty, and finding one’s place will resonate with adults.



*This piece is the product of a class assignment in which all members of the staff viewed the film and composed a review. Those reviews were pieced together into a single publication. Most of the content as well as the structure came from Guest Writer, Alyssa Mirossay, with supplemental information brought in from other writers.