Disney’s Moana Blu-ray review

Moana is one of Disney’s biggest hits in 2016, nominated for many awards, and has a rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film has pretty much captivated millions all over the world, and Polynesians have something they can be proud of.

The film follows Moana, a teenage daughter of the Motunui chieftain who has been taught to appreciate her island. The island is slowly dying, and Moana will need to leave her home and seek aid from a demigod named Maui to restore the heart of Te Fiti.

The heart of the film is the performances by Auli’i Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Maui. These two characters are a delight to watch. As Moana, Cravalho is able to bring an empowering character who won’t give up on saving her people. Johnson has a gift of being likable, even when he’s playing a conceited character.

Fans of Disney musicals will have a fun and heartfelt time listening to the many catchy and emotional songs. “You’re Welcome,” “We Know the Way,” and “How Far I’ll Go” are definitely my favorite songs in the film. To bring the film’s music to life, Disney brought in three different musicians from different backgrounds to work together. Lin-Manuel Miranda comes from a stage musical background, Opetaia Foa’i is from an Oceanic music group, and Mark Mancina has worked on the music for The Lion King and Tarzan. Their first collaboration was “We Know the Way,” and it is an uplifting song that shows off the Polynesian navigators sailing across the ocean.

The film has received some controversy, but I admire co-directors John Musker and Ron Clements for going the extra mile in trying to give us an authentic Polynesian experience. They have formed the Oceanic Story Trust that comprises of different Polynesian experts. There are those who had issues with the depiction of Maui, but since there are different versions of Maui, there’s no way the filmmakers could please everyone. There’s a version where he’s a prophet and stories where he enters a goddess’ private area. (I’m pretty sure people don’t want to see that in a Disney movie.) “You’re Welcome” is a fun song that nicely includes the many different feats Maui has done including lassoing the sun, bringing up the sky and pulling up the island from the sea.

The film is presented in 1080 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The details and colors are breathtaking whether it’s the lush and green islands or the vast, blue ocean. The “Shiny” song sequence is very illuminating with glittery treasure and neon colors. The audio features English 7.1 DTS-HDMA. The dialogue is clear focused on the center channel. The background sounds set the mood from the splashing of the waves to the banging of the drums in the Kakamora boat scene. Disney once again knocks another one out of the park with its audio and sound presentation.

Extras

The two things that I was looking forward to the most were to see how the Oceanic Story Trust started and the behind-the-scenes collaboration with the three different composers. In the “They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana” featurette, we see Foa’i, Miranda and Mancina coming up with ideas together in a room for “We Know the Way.” They also talk about what it’s like to work together, visiting the islands, and how the experience has changed their lives. “Voices of the Islands” features the many different Polynesians in the Oceanic Story Trust discussing how important it is that Disney wanted to make an authentic movie. One correction that came to mind was a scene of Moana hitting a coconut out of the way due to frustration. It was later removed in the film because a character like that wouldn’t treat the coconut so carelessly.

The audio commentary with Clements and Musker is pretty insightful as they talk about the production of the film including John Lasseter suggesting that they visit the Oceanic islands for research. (What a great gig.)

Here are the rest of the special features:

  • Short Film: “Inner Workings” – A short animated film about a man conflicted with a boring and exciting life.
  • Maui Mini-Movie: “Gone Fishing”
  • Deleted Song, “Warrior Face,” by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Things You Didn’t Know About – Voice actors Johnson and Cravalho and composers Foa’i, Miranda and Mancina reveal how many hours of sleep do they get, their favorite Disney song and more.
  • Island Fashion – Costume designer Neysa Bove discusses the challenges of creating outfits made from materials found in the islands of Oceania.
  • Fishing for Easter Eggs – Cravalho reveals some Easter eggs in the film including characters from Frozen, Tangled, Aladdin and more.
  • The Elements of… – See how the special effects for Moana were created including Mini Maui, Water, Lava and Hair. The Mini Maui one is great for fans of Eric Goldberg, who worked on bringing the Genie to life in Aladdin.
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video: “How Far I’ll Go” – Performed by Alessia Cara

If you’re a fan of Moana, you don’t need me to tell you that the Blu-ray is worth getting. With a beautiful video and marvelous audio presentation, a wonderful and emotional story, and some interesting extras, Moana is easily recommended.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 Atoms

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John 'Spartan' Nguyen
John 'Spartan' Nguyen 8821 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, editor-in-chief.

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