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Blu-ray Review: Moana
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Moana

Moana
Blu-ray l DVD l Collector’s Edition
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Screenwriter: Jared Bush
Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Tudyk, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, Rachel House, Jemaine Clement
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Rated PG | 113 minutes
Release Date: March 7, 2017

Last year, Disney released two Oscar-nominated animated films: Zootopia and Moana. Choosing a favorite between the two was no easy decision. Both had gorgeous animation and both and beautiful stories to tell. The former had themes of inclusion and welcoming diversity, while the latter focused on a spirited young girl who strived for independence but also wanted to pay respect to her family’s history and culture. In the end, Zootopia came out the winner, but you can make an argument for Moana being the better film.

Now you’ll be able to make a comparison with Moana hitting Blu-ray shelves this week. The film, of course, comes chalk full of bonus feature goodies which include deleted scenes, an animated short, and the Polynesian culture that helped inspire the film in more ways than one. Check out the full review below.

This isn’t your traditional Disney princess film. Though Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is being groomed to be chief of the fictional island, Motunui, she hears the calling to navigate the seas. A practice that has been long forgotten for unknown reasons. But as the island starts to decay, so does its food sources. Her grandmother, the village crazy lady, tells her of a legend that if a person restores the Heart of Tefiti, that her island would return to normal. Moana starts to feel tremendous pressure to honor her father’s wishes not to sail beyond the reef and accept her duties as chief. Recognizing that the problem won’t resolve itself, she sails beyond the reef to restore the Heart. But her inexperience leads her to go off course and hit a major storm.

Beached on an island, she meets Maui (Dwayne Johnson), a shapeshifting demigod of the wind and sea, who has been stranded on the island ever since he stole the heart. While the relationship between the two is contentious, it’s all in good fun as it provides plenty of hilarious banter. Hei Hei (Alan Tudyk) provides some more comic relief with his rendition of voicing a chicken. But the film goes so much deeper than the two playing off each other. They both are searching for their identity. Moana is searching for who she is really meant to be while also accepting her responsibility as a chief, while Maui has to come to grips with who he is when he has or does not have his magic fishhook.

A lot of credit goes to Disney, who put this all together. It would have been simple to get all the Polynesian culture from an internet search, but John Lasseter had the creative team head over the various Polynesian islands to absorb the culture and learn from its people. This allowed for a more authentic and respectful story. Which was taken a step further when they had Polynesian talent as a part of the voice cast. Then it was taken another step further with the music by Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, which sounds an awful lot like a mix of hip-hop and jazz with a Polynesian twist.

Overall, Moana is the perfect addition for anyone looking to add to their Blu-ray collection. You can read my full review of the movie itself right here. Now onto the bonus features.

There are two shorts. Inner Workings (6:26), is the theatrical short that appeared before the pic. It’s a bit of a disappointment that it also didn’t get nominated for Best Animated Short, the story it tells is a fascinating one. The other is a Moana short titled Gone Fishing (2:29). Here we find Maui finding out it is a lot harder to get food than anticipated.

“Voice of the Islands” (31:13) explores the research process behind the making of Moana and how the formation of the Oceanic Story Trust helped them develop a better film that respects and honors the Polynesian culture.

“Things You Didn’t Know About” is split into two parts with part one focusing on Ron Clements, John Musker, Auli’i Cravalho, and Dwayne Johnson, (2:02) who share some of their favorite foods, the day’s breakfast, sleep habits, and more. While part two focuses on Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda (1:57) and what their favorite breakfast foods are, plus fun facts, favorite Disney theme park ride, sleeping habits, and a what-if questions.

“Island Fashion” (5:13) interviews Neysa Bové, visual development artist, who talks about some of the challenges that she had to overcome when designing the characters of the film.

The next bonus feature is called “The Elements Of…,” which is broken down into four parts. For Mini-Maui (3:34) we see how animators wove traditional animation with CG animation, creating bold new possibilities. Water (4:38) is a discussion of animating one of the most difficult properties in animation: water. Lava (2:56) takes a look at the technical challenges of creating a massive lava monster. Hair (3:05) is another thing that is notoriously hard to work with as it is unpredictable and difficult to manage for an entire feature.

“They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana” (12:37): An in-depth discussion of the film’s music. Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, discuss their collaboration of making the music of the film.

There is one bonus feature that takes a look at the deleted song “Warrior Face” with an introduction by songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda (3:41). For those who got the Deluxe Edition Soundtrack, you might recognize this song from one of Miranda’s demos.

There’s also “Fishing for Easter Eggs” (2:52), which sees Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson telling us all the fun nods and references to previous Disney flicks. How many did you catch before seeing this feature?

Then, of course, there’s the “Deleted Scenes” which run at a total of 25:56. I’ll avoid spoilers, but one of the biggest deleted scenes had Moana having brothers at one point. Since it did not fit into the story, that was dropped.

There’s also the “How Far I’ll Go” music video performed by Alessia Cara, as well as “‘How Far I’ll Go’ Around the World” (2:44) that is performed by multiple artists from around the globe.

Finally, there’s “Audio Commentary” from Directors John Musker and Ron Clements who discuss how this four-year long project came to be. Believe me, this is something you want to hear if you are a fan of the film as the two directors bring a lot of insight on how it was all put together.

Trailer

Cover

Moana Blu-ray Cover

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