Moana (released as Vaiana in some European countries, and Oceania in Italy) is an American musical adventure animated film made by Walt Disney Animation Studios and is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker of The Little Mermaid fame.
Moana was released theatrically in the United States on November 23, 2016 to positive reviews from critics, with particular praise going towards its animation, music, and vocal performances. The film went on to gross over $643 million worldwide. Along with Zootopia, it marked the first time since 2002 that Walt Disney Animation Studios released two feature films in the same year. It received two Academy Award nominations at the 89th Academy Awards: one for Best Animated Feature and another for Best Original Song ("How Far I'll Go").
The movie takes place in a Polynesian island and is about a teenager named Moana. When she was younger, she heard a story about a demigod named Maui who stole the heart of Te Fiti and then decided to visit the ocean, only to realize that somehow she could control the ocean. Throughout her life, she wanted to see what was out in the ocean and wanted to restore the heart of Te Fiti, since otherwise the islands were being destroyed. One day, she leaves her island and ends up finding Maui. However, Maui is very reluctant to go with, as he doesn't believe Moana has what it takes.
Why It Rocks
- Smooth and nice-looking animation.
- The plot is quite rich and has lots of heartwarming and/or tearjerking moments.
- Great and catchy songs, especially "You're Welcome", "How Far I'll Go", and "Shiny".
- Pua is cute, and Heihei is a decent comic relief.
- Funny moments, such as when Maui throws Moana off the boat and the ocean carries her back onto the boat. There was also a scene after the credits where Tamatoa was still on his back, and says to the audience, "You know, if I were named Sebastian and I had a Jamaican accent, you'd totally help me right now!", referencing "The Little Mermaid".
- The villains were unique; the Kakamora were somewhat cute coconut pirates, and Tamatoa was a giant, shiny, colorful crab. It also has the unique twist of a villain really being a hero.
- Some moments are touching and emotional, such as when Grandma Tala dies.
- Maui’s origin story is very heartbreaking and emotional, as he was abandoned by his mean-spirited parents when he was a human baby.
- Excellent voice acting, especially from actors like Auli'i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson.
- Pua was cute, but he didn't get very much screen time and the movie almost forgot about him until the end.
- Although the movie is about Moana and the journey she takes with Maui, it focuses a little too much on them and never shows a subplot involving Moana's family, which gives them little character development compared to the two lead characters.
- There was one instance of toilet humor when Maui peed into the ocean.
- Hei Hei despite being decent, is annoying and pointless to the film's plot.
- Moana is called "Vaiana" in most European countries (with the exception of the UK). this is due to a Trademark conflict.
- Moana is also renamed "Oceania" in Italy likely to not confuse with italian actress Moana Pozzi.