Moana

2016, Disney Animation

Well, what can I say? With Moana, Disney had a genuine hit on their hands. But therein lies my gripe: it comes off as a deliberate hit: every minute of it carefully calculated according to a tried-and-true Disney formula that was wisely tweaked to work for a more modern audience. The tweaks came in the form of an obvious "girl power" story—nothing wrong with that, really—and an egotistical yet self-aware demigod that our heroine sees right through.

There was considerable noise in the press over the fact that Auli'i Cravalho from Hawaii was chosen for Moana. Again, nothing wrong with that; it just felt as though Disney was using their diversity efforts as a marketing gimmick. Then, their choice of Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock) for the role of the demigod Maui made it seem as though Disney picked a pop culture icon for the sake of having a pop culture icon.

Casting intrigue aside, Moana is more than worth it for the spectacular animation alone.

     

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