The ocean is calling.
To capitalize on the release of a movie hitting this week, I'm doing nothing related! Instead, we get to have some fun in the sun and surf with a Disney animation named Moana.Songs, princesses, magic and lore are to be expected, but can it hold the interest of some random dude on the internet? You'll have to just decide to read it, because this week, I really need to work harder on Maui puns.
I like this thing that Disney does - wherein they take something from a culture, and rip a story out of it that can still be approached from a worldwide audience. It's not particularly new and heck, sometimes probably not even really accurate, but it's nice to get that brief glimpse into another culture in such a fanciful way. Continuing the great mouse's globetrotting role model extravaganza, this time we get a nice drop into Polynesian legend. The plot itself boiled down isn't going to be so far fetched from other such global entries from Disney that involve a hero's quest, but due to the culture we do get some different visuals and different details about the journey.
Most of these differences can be easily caught by the eye - such as a pirating war band of coconut people. Yeah, you read it right. Don't believe me? I've included a picture in the article. I can't necessarily say said pirate-nuts are necessarily intimidating even with their giant Mad Max style mega-boat, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like the design of particularly their leader. Other tidbits are used quite nicely as well - such as the tattoo's of our main's demigod companion telling stories of his achievements. There's also a musical number that involves some (as far as I know) local singing in parts of it. For all the little differences though, this thing largely still manages to follow the mold of expectations.
Songs are a thing. I mean, it's a movie from the house of mouse, when have their animated movies not had the compulsion to break down into song. In this case, there's one or two that are decently catchy, although I do hope that the Rock doesn't pursue a professional singing career anytime soon - not that I can do better, and the song is still quite entertaining, but as far as singing goes not the greatest. There's also a song during what I'd refer to as a mini-boss encounter, in which I can't tell if they kept cutting off the song and then going back to it or some of the song itself was just meant to sound way more spoken instead of sung. I don't expect anything here to get as much air time as "Let it Go," but I don't think any of us are gonna complain about that.
Animation here was actually really surprising to me. I know these movies just keep getting better in that field over time, but with how somewhat simple the overall human designs looked I wasn't expecting a level of attention that included visible vibrato action in mouths. Movements were silky, and overall the thing was pretty smooth sailing. There's plenty of great colors thrown in during various parts to help break up a movie that in large part takes place on a boat in the ocean, and the character faces do a great job of conveying feeling when on screen.
Of course, all the best animation in the world can't save a movie from terrible acting, and this movie thankfully didn't run into that problem. Actors do a great job here, and even if some of them lack the singing chops that others seem to have most of the songs still come of entertaining in the least. You still have the "stay here" song, the "want adventure" song, that "upbeat side character" song, the "evil guy" song - it's nothing super groundbreaking here, but not every movie with music needs to knock all the others out of the park. Couple that with the fact that I'm not a huge fan of musicals in the first place and the fact that it didn't send me reeling away is testament enough that the songs weren't, at the very least, garbage in constructions. I did note, however, that some of the songs felt really... repetitive, for a lack of a better word. I'm sure that movies of the past must have been just as repetitive as the ones here, and that the ones here can't be as repetitive as they felt, but for some reason it just felt that way.
The runtime hit's the mark you would want from a movie like this. The humor drifts from place to place though. I laughed a few times, I'll be honest, and a good chunk of those times where all physical gags - but it had a few in there beyond that that rose a chuckle from the depths. On the other hand, you also get the pee joke - a fart joke, regardless of how infantile, will get me to laugh since they are my kryptonite, and I'm sure someone's gonna find that joke funny because in some ways it really is, but at the same time it felt like such a low blow of a joke. Then again, this is coming from the guy that was laughing about a mentally-challenged rooster. Take it like you will.
Moana is a movie that most the people who will enjoy it know they will enjoy it before they watch it. It's a Disney animated flick through and through, but the change once again to another culture is always a welcome addition. It looks great (maybe sometime I'll check out the 3D version and see how that holds up), sounds pretty good, and offers you nothing more than what you expected outside a couple rubber chickens. It's a fun movie, probably quite effective as a family film like it was intended, and I feel like most people will probably be fine seeing it and not feeling like they were tortured by a significant other by doing so. Oh, and look at that, I even managed to get some jokes in here, regardless of how many might have slipped right by.