Animé and Toons
Moana Blu-Ray Review
By Hervé St-Louis
March 29, 2017 - 14:19
Studios: The Walt Disney Studios
Writer(s): Jared Bush
Starring: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison Temuera Morrison
Directed by: Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker, Chris Williams
Produced by: Osnat Shurer
Running Time: 90 minutes
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
When demi-god Maui steels the heart of the goddess that gave life to the Pacific islands, the ocean decides that island princess Moana is the right person to return the heart, stopping the rotting and destruction of life across the Pacific Ocean. But Maui is an unwilling partner the quest and Moana faces many challenges that make it impossible for her to return the heart to the goddess.
I liked this movie but it had flaws. On the Blu-Ray, one can see many deleted scenes that would have shaped the movie into something better. The alternate story had Moana proving her worth against her six brothers and father ad sailing actively with them for the heart. The story that we got instead made Moana a single child and the chieftain’s successor whose connection and worth for her quest was encouraged by her spiritual and crazy grandmother. The connection to water was stronger in the movie that we saw since the sibling rivalry and woman empowerment message was now gone.
It is not to say that Moana is not a strong role model for girls. This movie aims to be just that. But it is uneven. Moana’s mother has very few lines in this film compared with her father. Moana’s grandma though has a strong relationship. I’m glad that the movie-makers resisted giving a romantic inclination to Moana and Maui. Yet Maui was treated the same way many male lead or supporting lead are treated when it’s time to make the female character a strong one. They end up like bumbling idiots that are not committed and slackers. The only director to avoid turning male leads into idiots is Miyazaki. His male leads are as strong as his females, yet the women are clearly the central characters in his movies.
Now the best thing about Moana are the visuals. They challenge and at times outdo anything seen in Frozen. Water is fickle. Hair is as fickle. Combine hair and water, and you get a technical animation challenge no matter how much software and algorithms you throw at the problem. The colours are beautiful. It’s a beautiful movie but it lacks the soul of other Disney movies.
Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & Digital 3D/HD/SD:
- Theatrical Short Film: “Inner Workings” – With introduction by the filmmakers, is the story of the internal struggle between a man’s pragmatic, logical side and his free-spirited, adventurous half. Created by a small team at Walt Disney Animation Studios in a unique, fast-paced style that blends CG and traditional hand-drawn animation, the short explores the importance of finding balance in daily life.
- Maui Mini-Movie: “Gone Fishing” – When Maui decides it’s time to take charge of the ocean and catch his next meal, Moana must show him the error of his ways … with a little help from her friends!
- Voice of the Islands – An in-depth look at how Pacific Island people and cultures inspired the filmmakers to create the story of “Moana.”
- Things You Didn’t Know About …
- Meet the stars of “Moana” in this dynamic Q&A featuring Dwayne Johnson, newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho, and famed animation directors Ron and John.
- Meet the musical team behind “Moana” in this fascinating Q&A featuring Opetaia Foa‘i, Mark Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- Island Fashion – Find out how costume designer Neysa Bové took on the unique challenge of creating costumes using materials and techniques native to the islands of Oceania.
- They Know the Way: Making the Music of “Moana” – Musicians Opetaia Foa‘I, Marc Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda take us on a personal journey through their involvement in the movie and how it changed their lives.
- Fishing for Easter Eggs – Dive deep into the ocean and fish for the Easter Eggs hidden by the animators at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
- The Elements of … – This series of four mini-docs explores the technical achievements behind some of the ground-breaking effects used in the film.
- Mini Maui – Meet “Mini Maui,” Maui’s tattoo sidekick. Animated by legendary hand-drawn animator Eric Goldberg, we explore how the 2D world collides with CG animation to bring the demigod’s tattoos to life.
- Water – In the movie, the ocean is a character. This piece explores how the water is given a personality, along with the technical feats of creating a believable ocean landscape farther than the eye can see.
- Lava – Te Kā is a creature made of lava, smoke and fire. This piece dives into the challenges of making an animated creature of massive scale brought to fiery life by character, technical and effects animators.
- Hair – One of the greatest technical achievements of the film was the animation of the beautiful, curly hair on Moana and Maui. Take a look at the hair-raising detail that goes into animating each strand, adding performance to the movie that has never been seen before.
- Deleted Song: “Warrior Face” – With introduction by songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- Deleted Scenes – Ron and John introduce the following deleted scenes: Race the Wind/Ties that Bind; Discussing Moana’s Future; Under the Sea; Grandmother’s Warning/Legend of Maui; Education of Moana; Father, Daughter, Boat; and Canoe Race.
- Music Video: “How Far I’ll Go” – Performed by Alessia Cara.
- “How Far I’ll Go Around the World” – Multi-language reel of the song “How Far I’ll Go.”
- Audio Commentary – With directors Ron and John.
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