Moana (2016)

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Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall and Chris Williams direct Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson and Jemaine Clement in this Polynesian themed feminist adventure. 

Not a classic like Frozen or The Princess and The Frog, Moana is a bit too blatantly calculated yet slapdash to let you settle in and be taken back to that wondrous childhood feeling a great Disney animation effortlessly envokes. There’s just too much flashbacking and exposition in the first half for the viewer to ever settle in comfortably, the songbook is weak (though You’re Welcome and Shiny manage to at least replicate fun moments from Hercules and A Nightmare Before Christmas respectively) and it all feels like the pot luck stew of way too many cooks (Four directors? How many writers?!). I would have written the whole adventure off until The Rock’s demigod Maui arrives at the midway point and the plot suddenly forms into a recognisable shape. From his living tattoos to his infectious arrogance to his chaotic part in the decent action sequences that fill the remainder to his strong chalk and cheese dynamic with our oh so modern title hero… let’s just say Dwayne Johnson franchise viagra can even perk up the relentless Disney machine at its clunkiest.  A side note – the rooster sidekick plus vague ethnographic look and score made me hanker for a Nando’s… just me on that one?

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