Much to our Editor’s surprise this turned out not to be a documentary about his wife as we had to point out to him that it’s pronounced, ‘Mo-an-AH’ not ‘Moaner’ so thankfully we didn’t have to put up with 90 minutes of his wife rattling on about the dustbins not being put out and him leaving the toilet seat up. Instead what we get is the latest Disney Pixar film about a Polynesian teenager, Moana attempting to save her island with the help of a demi-god called Maui (Dwayne Johnson). It’s Maui that’s caused the problem in the first place having taken a precious stone from an island which casts an ominous shadow across the area consuming an island at a time causing its crops to fail, vegetation to die and even the fish unable to be caught and its Moana who, much against her father’s wishes, leaves the island and uses her navigational skills to find the island where Maui is trapped. In real life Johnson is a likable guy and here his natural charm overwhelms a character who initially is self absorbed and arrogant enough to believe his own demi-god myth taking Moana’s boat and leaving her there whilst he finally escapes. You’d think that he’d have a change of heart and return for her but in recent years Disney has moved away from their soppy stereotypical princesses and, as seen in ‘Frozen’ and ‘Brave’, made their female leads independent spirits and Moana continues that tradition as she makes clear to Maui that though he is a demi-god she regards herself as his equal when it comes to saving the day.
The film does take a little while to get going before Maui appears and the bulk of the film is taken up with their journey to the island where Maui must return the treasured stone and restore order to the islands. Predictably the two are like chalk and cheese but Disney have resisted the norm to make them fall in love instead electing for each character to respect each other. But in many other ways the film adopts the template for so many films like this, so we have the comedy animal sidekicks, here it’s a pop eyed in this case a comedy chicken and a sprinkling of instantly forgettable songs (even the tunes of the best ones are forgotten within minutes) and yes, Johnson does sing one of them and no, he’s not a singer by any stretch of the imagination but scores points for trying.
With Pixar incapable of making any of their films look dull this is typically brilliant in its use of colours and the quality of the animation is as beautiful as the locations it depicts and its oddly the humans who look oddly like plastic dolls at times though when there are extreme close ups of Maui’s body tattoo’s, who regularly remonstrate with him, the micro blemishes on the skin are impressively detailed.
Along the way they inevitably encounter other charters of which the best is undoubtedly the coconut pirates who in their rag tag ship look like a high seas version of Mad Max and there’s a gigantic lava demon that’s not so scary as to terrify small children which this is far more suited for than older ones who might be put off by its slightly twee story despite its feisty heroine. Perhaps it doesn’t have the crossover appeal that Toy Story and Finding Nemo had and is one of their lesser films but the appeal of Dwayne Johnson should ensure its success.
Here’s the trailer…….