Moana is classic Disney animation done right, a splendid and delightful adventure epic that appeals to both children and adults. The film certainly shares many story qualities with many other Disney films, it has two major advantages: a new level of technical wizardry in the film’s gorgeous visuals and the fantastic soundtrack from musical genius Lin-Manuel Miranda. It’s slow to start, but the film ranks among Disney’s best modern films, with a great new heroine in the film’s titular character.
Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is the daughter of a Hawaiin chief, destined to lead her people. Despite the friendly nature of her island, Moana years for the adventures in the Ocean. which her father forbids her from partaking in. However, darkness looms from a mysterious demon at the heart of the Ocean, and Moana goes out on a forbidden journey to with the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) to restore peace to the sea and save the world.
While the film is slightly overlong, the lavish musical numbers and sharp humor help to justify its runtime, and the film cleverly uses Hawaiin mythology to make a compelling adventure. Most importantly, the character of Moana is instantly relatable, and the dynamic with Johnson’s charming Maui gives the film a unique quality. It’s a fun throwback Disney film that feels wholly original, an enthralling and exciting journey. Grade: B+