Moana – Disney’s Polynesian princess

Moana – Disney’s Polynesian princess

Review: Moana

(PG) Starring the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Auli’i Cravalho

The creative team of Ron Clements and John Masker brought us The Little Mermaid in 1989. These Disney directors has gone back to the beauty of the ocean to bring us the new animated adventure, Moana. The technological advancements since the 1989 classic was released have given this seafaring adventure a new wave of possibilities. Partnering with the voice talents of Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence) and tapping into the mythology of the Pacific Islands, the House of Mouse should sail away with another hit when Moana opens at our cinemas on Boxing Day.

But is there something for parents to consider more deeply about Moana, before sending the kids off to theatres this holiday season?

While Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) is the daughter of the chief on Polynesian island of Motunui, her heart is drawn to the ocean waters that surround them. When the fishing and farming community begins to suffer because of a lack of fish and a blight on the island’s plant life, Moana is chosen to find demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Maui is to blame for the difficulties plaguing the island, because he stole a heart stone from the goddess Te Fiti. Young princess Moana must convince Maui to travel with her to recover his own source of power and then return the heart of the goddess.

This may not sound like the typical workings of Disney Animation, but the different elements of Moana seem to work out when put through the magical formula of this successful studio. The combination of groundbreaking animation, inspiring score, the hottest voice talent available and comedic animal sidekicks will continue Disney’s winning streak at cinemas. Indeed, Disney is so comfortable and confident with this formula, it is even willing to make fun of itself within the comedic dialogue between lead characters. But while the proven Disney blueprint is a strength, it does offer some weaknesses to the overall experience of Moana.The songs are not as memorable as Frozen, the comedy is not as original as Aladdin, and the animation is reminiscent of Finding Dory. When most of the belly laughs are sparked by a chicken called Hei Hei, perhaps Disney needs to keep trying to find fresher and newer content.

The wash-up from Moana, though, is that this island-hopping adventure is engaging, beautiful and fun. It will provide parents with a safe option for the holidays – and the Disney merchandising team with new characters on offer for Christmas. But before taking the kids along to see this latest cinematic offering, it might be worth considering a few things……

What should parents know about Moana? 

In dealing with the mythology of Polynesia, it would be good for parents to have a chat about the spiritual realm. Unlike another Disney legend, Hercules, which delved deep into the murky world of heaven and hell from Greek mythology. Moana is not as scary for young viewers. But this adventure into the world of celestial beings does include the works of demigods and gods. In their animated state, they can be comical and even scary at times, but the big thing to watch out for is how they can influence children’s views about God (or gods). As such, Moana is a great opportunity for parents to talk with their children about what they understand and know about God. After the movie, the Bible provides parents with the tools to have this conversation with confidence and authority.

What are the bigger questions to consider from this film?

  1. Does the bible say about other gods?(Exodus 20:1-5, Psalms 115:4-11, 135:15-18)
  2. What are the passages about the God of the Bible being the only God?
    (Exodus 20:1-26, Isaiah 44:6, John14:6, 1 Corinthians 8:6, 1 Timothy 1:5)

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger


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