Movie #102 2020: Moana (2016)

It’s mad to think that before 2016, we only had 3 Disney ‘princesses’ that were women of colour. (Those princesses being Pocahontas, Mulan, and The Princess and the Frog’s Tiana – although I’m not sure if the former two characters are technically princesses). Thankfully, Disney continued to build on that, and they brought us a Polynesia-based hero in Moana.

Is Moana technically a princess? To be honest, I don’t care about that sort of thing. But it’s nice to see that Disney are making a diversity effort. And wow, what a movie this was.

Moana is based on the island of Motunui, which I am told is a fictional place, despite being named for the real island of Motu Nui off the west coast of Chile. This is a refreshing change from the Caucasian likes of Beauty & the Beast’s France or Snow White‘s Germany, isn’t it?

The best thing about Moana being set on a Hawaii-esque island is that it makes way for some out of this world animation. Since watching, I’ve still not been able to get over how gorgeous the animation of the ocean is in this movie. It gave me, if nothing else, major heart eyes. The animators at Disney have miraculously found some sort of step up from Finding Nemo to make the water look even more realistic. Their ‘sea-quences’, which I’ve so lovingly called them, give us the light from rays of sunshine hitting the water in a way that is so true to life that I was astonished. It is simply breath-taking, and almost as if you are on Moana’s epic journey with her.

Not only does Moana have all-time best dude ever Dwayne Johnson at its heart, but it does something that is rarely seen in Disney movies with a female as the lead. The writers make a noticeable effort to ensure that Moana’s only loves are the ocean and the aesthetically pleasing island in which she is from. There’s not even a slight hint at any romantic relationship, so we’re not sidetracked by any less important romantic subplots. This is the type of movie that young girls need.

Although I don’t rate the film as a whole as highly as Coco (which I think is truly a perfect animated movie), I cannot do it an injustice by rating it any less than 5 Qs. It is as perfect as it could be, and possibly the most enjoyable animated movie I’ve seen in the year 2020.

Moana is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

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