Monday, 5 December 2016

REVIEW - MOANA (RON CLEMENTS, DON HALL, JOHN MUSKER AND CHRIS WILLIAMS)


A home comfort, time-tested and time-perfected, subtly repackaged for the modern world. Any behemothic studio such as Disney would need time and more time to catch up with modernity, but Moana feels like the latest real deal in an increasingly long line, and one whose moderate progressiveness is clothed in easygoing appeal and, crucially, narrative congruity. Nothing much new here, save that essential acknowledgement of the lineage of Disney's female animated characters, and the sweet simplicity of its resolution - Moana defines herself not in the shadow of her sex but in that of her heritage, thus allowing her film to encompass a wider range of thematic concerns. The moralizing is kept to a flattering minimum, while finely-honed comedy, cuteness and visual splendour are utilized to add wondrous colour to this energized offering from filmmakers who continue to have much to prove, yet never let the strain show here. As in its own traditions, Moana is a musical alongside an animation, and it's here that a good film touches upon greatness - these are fantastic songs for a movie musical, from Opetaia Foa'i, Mark Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda, and their frequency is an especially valuable aspect of the film, preventing it from settling into the kind of humdrum comic actioner of which too many of its forerunners have heard the curious call. Rather than breaking new ground with jaw-dropping verve, Moana takes a different, arguably more persuasive approach: simply striding ahead with surety, and finally convincing its audience that the Mouse House is genuinely catching up.