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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Moana Review!

You know what's awesome? Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. You know what else is awesome? Polynesian mythology (or, in my case, literally any mythology). So what happens when you put the two together? You get a Disney Princess movie that stretches the boundaries of what it means to be a Disney Princess movie.

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Now I know what you're thinking. "How on Earth is a Disney Princess Movie even remotely similar to Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker?" Because both have a lot of sea travel and boats. That's basically it. I just wanted to make an obligatory video game reference.

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So what exactly is Moana? It's a Disney Princess Movie. Random fun fact! When I was a kid my immediate reaction to Disney Princess Movies was always "Ew this is a girly movie there's no way I'm ever going to watch it because it's girly even though I'm gonna hypocritically watch Beauty & The Beast!" because growing up I never realised that it was a Disney Princess movie because I always viewed The Beast as the main hero instead of Belle (can I get a "FAIL!!!"!?). But nowadays I don't really care if a movie is a Disney Princess movie as the only things I personally care about in a movie is nice visuals, great characters, and a decent story. And Moana delivers on all these fronts and I'll just say it right now, this movie is a THOUSAND times better than Frozen (let the flame wars begin... *evil laugh*).

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Moana is the story of the eponymous Polynesian girl (who is our Disney Princess, but she's more like a metaphorical princess due to the nature of the setting) who goes on a quest to stop a curse from destroying the world with the help of a demigod named Maui (who not only is from SEVERAL Polynesian legends in real life, but is voiced by none other than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson himself!). Oh, and the whole thing is a comedy/action/musical (yes, you read all that correctly). The story is not bad at all, but does hit some very familiar notes, namely "young girl sets off on adventure despite overprotective dad not wanting her to", the fact that Moana's main song ("How Far I'll Go) is very much a classic *"I want" song, a villainous entity (in this case a giant coconut crab named Tamatoa) singing a surprisingly creepy/awesome (crawsome?) but totally expected **Villain Song, and the story revolving around some kind of ***Macguffin. 

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Let me explain why Moana is vastly superior to Frozen. Aside from me using the whole "Moana vs Frozen" argument as a joke, the reason why I like Moana more is primarily because both movies are musicals. The difference here is that the songs in Moana are much, MUCH better. Frozen had some alright songs, chiefly "Summer" "Fixer Upper", and "Let it Go", but other songs like "Love is an Open Door" were kind of meh. Moana's songs are actually surprisingly good, partly because well over half of them are catchy, and also good in my book thanks to the hilarious mental image of The Rock singing. But in all seriousness, with songs like "Your Welcome", "Shiny", and "We know the Way" blow just about the entirety of Frozen's soundtrack out of the water (first water pun of many right here).

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Anyway, something I love about this movie is it's visuals. I think we can all agree that this is by far the BEST Disney movie as far visuals go. This, combined with the fact that the songs are better than Frozen make Moana the best Disney Princess movie ever and the second best Disney movie period (sorry, nothing can beat Zootopia). Also, bonus points for not being based around a European fairy tale like literally every Disney Princess Movie ever (I kid you not, the one thing every Disney Princess movie has in common is all of them are based off of European myths, some more loosely inspired than others). And even more bonus points for being surprisingly accurate when it comes to Polynesian culture. I know some folks might find Maui's bulkiness to be stereotypical, but still.

Image result for moana screenshots 

Another major thing I like about this movie is it's humor. Namely, Heihei the chicken. That chicken is so derpy and I love that derpy chicken because he's just so derpy his very existence is funny. You know how there's always that one character in a video game or a movie that is too dumb to live? Heihei is too dumb to die. Thus he is immortal and during the apocalypse when the ****Longleg menace has taken over the world, Heihei will become the people's lord and savior... Assuming Heihei can defeat the obvious threat the Longleg menace poses to all life on Earth. Eh, it'll be fine, Plus, some of the lyrics in some of the songs are funny whether they were intended to be or not (lyrics like "CONSIDER THE COCONUT!" and basically the entirety of "Your Welcome", since that is one of the best *****"I am Great!" songs ever). 

Now I know this review is a tad shorter than I would like it to be (given the nature of reviewing interactive forms of entertainment, like video games, compared to passive entertainment, like movies), but I am just going to score this movie right now. I give it... a 9/10. What!? Why would I only give this movie a 9/10 instead of a perfect score? Because, like I said, the story it's a lot a familiar notes, and that level of predictability bothers me slightly, as I will remember a movie more fondly if it manages to surprise me. That's really the ONLY advantage Frozen has over Moana. At least Frozen managed to surprise me, and no, I'm not talking about Hans being the villain all along, I half-expected him to be evil since everything he did implied he was trying to weasel his way into the Erindale throne, the thing that ACTUALLY surprised me was the alternative interpretation of the definition of true love, since I EXPECTED it meant romantic love, like literally every other instance, but instead was platonic, sisterly love... Unless Elsa secretly has the hots for her own sister, but Disney won't be opening THAT can of worms in the near future (watch as they buy the rights to Game of Thrones or something lol).

*- "I want" Song is the name of a trope commonly (read: always) found in musicals that normally involves the main hero(ine) expressing, in song, their goals/ambitions/dreams while also giving us the audience a glimpse into the character's personality.

**- A Villain song is also basically the same thing as an "I want" song but reserved for the main villain... Or in Moana's case the character that comes closest to being a villain, Tamatoa.

***- Macguffin is yet ANOTHER trope that applies to literally anything that has a story where a good chunk of the plot focuses on an item of some kind of importance, like a legendary sword or something.

****- This is a reference to a one-off joke I made during my review of the video game Horizon: Zero Dawn in which I ranted about how Longlegs, an intermediate-level enemy type from that game, was somehow more difficult to deal with than most of the game's bosses. And I was 100% in saying they are out for blood.

*****- Another musical trope, an "I am Great!" song is when you have a character literally sing their own praises about how awesome that character is. Wow, look at me identifying movie tropes like a boss!

P,S. I cannot remember the name of the voice actress that plays Moana herself, but I remember hearing somewhere this film is actually her debut role, so bonus points!

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