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Laramie Movie Scope: Moana

Girl power on the high seas

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 29, 2016 -- Moana is the latest Disney animated feature with a young girl as the protagonist on a magical quest. A strong story, decent songs, good music, beautiful artwork and a spunky girl who tames a demigod combine for an enjoyable film, inspired by Polynesian traditions.

Moana is “the chosen one” (ever heard of that before?) to embark on a quest restore balance to nature, and she fulfills her destiny in this film with a lot of determination, with a lot of help from the sea, her grandmother, a trickster demigod and a witless chicken sidekick.

Moana is the daughter of the chief of an island in trouble. The fishing in the lagoon are depleted and the crops are failing. Moana is chosen by the sea to return a magical stone to its rightful place to restore nature's balance. The stone was stolen, in a Prometheus-like act to help mankind by the demigod Maui.

Moana's quest is to find Maui and get him to put the stone back where it belongs to reverse the curse he put on the world. In order to do all this, she must learn to sail on the wide ocean, something she has been forbidden to do by her father. But her wise old grandmother knows that Moana was chosen to pursue this quest.

Moana finds Maui, but he is a trickster, a shapeshifter, a prankster, who is unwilling to help in Moana's quest. With the aid of the sea, Moana is able, with a lot of effort and heroism, to persuade Maui to be the hero he was meant to be. The two, accompanied by a very stupid chicken, embark on a high adventure, dodging terrible danger.

As usual in this kind of film there is a moral to the story about following your dreams, overcoming obstacles, having courage to fight for what's right and finding the hero inside. There is a nice relationship between Moana and Maui as they learn to work together. They also inspire each other. The film also features a bit of information about sailing and navigation by recognizing star formations.

This is a very solid Disney feature, that looks good in 3D, with excellent voice talents, including Auli'i Cravalho as Moana, Dwayne Johnson as Maui, Rachel House as Grandma Tala and Temuera Morrison as Chief Tu. The songs are O.K., but not up there with the Disney classics. This is a good, but not great Disney animated feature, the 56th for the venerable company. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2016 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)