Moana, A New Princess


Phoebe Jones, Staff Writer

Disney’s new Moana was a smash-hit full of great acting, unforgettable music, and a plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last line.

The story follows Moana, the daughter of the chief of the village of Motunui, as she embarks on a quest to find the demigod Maui and lead him to the island of Te Fiti to restore the heart of the goddess Te Fiti, which Maui had stolen years earlier.

The movie features Dwayne Johnson as Maui, music by Lin Manuel-Miranda, the writer and star of In the Heights and Hamilton, and John Lasseter, one of Disney’s go-to directors and producers, as executive producer.

The soundtrack, written by Lin Manuel-Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina, features styles ranging from hip-hop to hula and offers a new favorite song to almost anyone.

“You’re Welcome”, Maui’s opening song, gives an outline of the character’s history and attitude and starts as a fairly traditional Polynesian song and turns to mild rap later in the song, which matches up with Maui’s personality surprisingly well.

Moana’s solo “How Far I’ll Go”, though it will never reach the same heights as Frozen’s “Let it Go”, is just as beautiful and inspiring a song in which Moana describes her frustrations at being confined to the island, where everyone else knows who they are.

The movie’s villain solo, a Disney musical tradition that was disappointingly absent in Frozen, is “Shiny”, a hilarious song which is sung by Tamatoa, a giant crab who has beautified himself using stolen treasure.

This is not the outright villain song, as Moana and Maui encounter many obstacles along the way. Along with Tamatoa, Moana and Maui face the Kakamora (the “cute” coconut people), and Te Ka, a monster of earth and fire.

Moana and Maui demonstrate several relatable characteristics, such as Maui’s enduring selfishness and self-preservative attitude and Moana’s despair when things continually fail to follow her plan.

Maui provides a foil for Moana, Moana’s mission is to save her island from dying, whereas Maui’s only goal throughout the movie is avoiding harm to himself and getting his magic fish hook back so he can once again be powerful.

Where Disney’s last princess movie, Frozen, earned praise for its lack of a male hero and the changing view of ‘true love’ it depicted, Moana lacks a love interest and focuses on the adventure, keeping scenery changes clear and understandable.

Disney’s newest princess, though Moana herself insists she is not a princess, provides Disney’s younger audience with an example of selflessness and independence and a hope for adventure.

Older Disney fans will enjoy the rich cultural background the movie gives, the dynamic plot and characters, the well-hidden references and easter eggs (be sure to look out for Sven from Frozen and Flotsam/Jetsam from The Little Mermaid).

For the last few years, Disney has been rolling out the hits one after another, Frozen (2013), Big Hero 6 (2014), Zootopia (2016), and now Moana. We look forward to seeing where Disney will take us next November with Coco, the next animated feature.