Halleluja! I am completely overjoyed after watching Disney’s latest movie Vaiana. What a remarkable movie! From the first couple of seconds on it hit me hard and demanded my full attention: the wonderful character design (with a third that does not even speak), hilarious creatures, breathtaking visual creations, catchy songs, a stunning vocal cast… everything in this movie seems just right.
Vaiana tells us the story of a young daughter Vaiana (Auli’I Cravalho) of Village chief Tui in Motunui, who is chosen by the ocean itself to reunite a magical stone with a show-off shapeshifting demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), in the hope of saving her dying homeland.
Everyone is familiar with the classical Disney vibe: a princess, a story with plenty of obstacles to overcome, heartwarming songs, “Prince Charming”, and, of course, always the unsurprised happy ending. Honestly, I very much like them all. But Vaiana is refreshing. Slowly we can say times changed. She clearly is not a princess, despite of what Maui throws at her (“if you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you are a princess”). She does and she has, but nevertheless she is one of a kind and very inspirational. She has no love interest – or even time for a guy in her life – instead, she learns how to discover that anything is possible if you work together rather than complete, which becomes her moral message.
Why the movie catched my attention immediately? Simple. The lively animation is impressive and absolutely gorgeous. Before I even let myself dragged away by the story itself, the ocean – that seems to be alive – made me make a softly ‘ooh’ coming out of my mouth. Woow! Only for this particular aspect I would greedily run to the cinema and watch it again. I have never seen that before.
But of course there is much more that makes me thrilled about this movie. First of all I simply love the way how the characters are made up: they are pure… and so real. It actually feels like you are bonding with them like they are human beings. Especially with Moana and Maui you will get a closer connection. Maui has a prideful ego, but is a lot more complex than a first impression of him may perceive. On the contrary Moana is adventurous, practically fearless and will stand her ground. She has a passionate love for the ocean and will not step back away from her dreams. She believes in the greater good. Besides these two main characters, some hilarious animals seem to steal the scenes every now and then: Pua – Moana’s pet pig with an innocent puppy brain, coconut pirates, a blingbling-obsessed crab, and far beyond my favorite one ‘Hei Hei’ – Moana’s idiotic rooster. Although they have a small role in the story, the movie is definitely not the same without them.
Some last part that in my opinion makes it the best Disney movie yet, is because of the brilliant songs, and not to forget – the stunning vocal cast – who absolutely nailed them. Who would have believed ‘the Rock’ can sing? The songwriters and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetiaia Foa’I and Mark Mancina made sure the pacific music rhythms felt real and gave the emotional heart of the film a big boost. Every single song is good, but the song Shiny is the no-doubt number one! Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa – the greedy grab – blows you away with his Bowie-look-a-like song, which is also an hilarious scene. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that Claudio and me know the full lyrics of Shiny by now… after listening to it for weeks.