Movie Review: Moana (2016)

Nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for “How Far I’ll Go” at the 89th Academy Awards. Moana was released on November 23, 2016, with the soundtrack being written by Lin- Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina. Moana was the 56th Disney animated feature film. 

Long ago on the island of Motunui, the people used to worship the goddess Te Fiti, who brought life to the ocean surrounding them. She used the pounamu stone as her heart and source of her magic. One day, Maui (Dwayne Johnson), a shapeshifting Demigod, stole her heart to give humanity the ability to create. Maui is quickly attacked by the volcanic demon, Te Ka, who was also after the heart stone. While fighting, Maui was hit out of the sky, losing his magical fishhook, which allowed him to shapeshift, as well as the stone. 

Now a millennium later, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daughter of Chief Tui, is drawn to the ocean. It calls to her to return the stone. Chief Tui (Temura Morrison) doesn’t believe her and thinks the ocean is too scary. He does everything to keep his daughter away from the water. As Moana gets older, Montunui gets hit teeth a blight. The coconuts are now all rotten and there are no more fish to catch. Moana suggests going beyond the reef but her father shuts the idea down. When no one was looking, Moana tries to sail beyond the reef but the tide quickly hits and she’s dragged back to the beach. 

Tala (Rachel House), Moana’s grandmother, shows Moana the truth of how their people were once voyagers. They stopped when Maui stile the heart and that it is Ta Ka is spreading her darkness through the ocean to find the heart. Tala tells Moana that it is up to her to find Maui and together return the heart to Te Fiti before it is too late. Tala passes Moana the heart before falling very ill. 

Later that night, Moana returns to the cave and sets sail on a camakau. After a few days, Moana is caught up in a typhoon and shipwrecked onto an island. There she discovers a stranded Maui. Moana demands he helps her return the heart but Maui is stubborn and traps her in his cave before starting to set sail in Moana’s camakau. Moana escapes the cave and ends up on the boat. Eventually, the two run into the Kakamore, coconut pirates, who try to steal the heart but working together, Maui and Moana were able to get away. Moana later explains to Maui that he can make everything right by helping her restore the heart. Maui finally agrees but first they have to get his magical fishhook. Maui takes Moana to Lalotai, the realm of monsters, where Tamatoa is storing the hook in his shiny back. Moana distracts Tamatoa (Jemaine Clement) long enough for Maui to retrieve the hook but Maui quickly learns he lost control of his magic. Moana gets the two of them out of Lalotai and back to their boat. Maui tells her all about his tattoo stories and ends up gaining his confidence back as well as control over his powers. Maui ends up teaching Moana the true art of sailing. They finally arrive at Te Fiti’s island only to get attacked by Te Ka. Moana refuses to give up resulting in Maui’s hook damaged in a fight. With the fear of losing should he continue, Maui abandons Moana. Moana retreats and throws the stone into the ocean. Tala’s spirit appears to guide her. Moana dives in now full of courage, retrieves the stone, and goes back to overtake Te Ka. Maui returns as well and buys Moana time to find Te Fiti but she’s missing. Moana realizes that Te Ka is Te Fiti missing her heart. The ocean parts so that the two can meet and Moana gives her heart back, restoring Te Fiti. Te Fiti heals the ocean and its islands. Maui apologizes and in turn, Te Fiti fixes his hook as well as her boat before returning to her slumber. Moana parts with Maui on good terms before returning to Montunui, as the new chief and returning her people as the voyagers they once were. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Besides the awesome Easter eggs to be found, Moana was fantastic for its bravery and the phenomenal music. I wish I had taken my kiddo to the movie theater for this but once I saw how much it was loved by other kids we bought it and wow, it was well worth it.

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