Friday, June 30, 2017

Making a Summer Splash in Moana (Movie Review)

One week into summer and it is HOT. The sun is blazing, temperatures are high so it’s time to crack out those ice pops and summer tops. With most of you young folks (I’m not that old I just like saying that.) getting off from School you’ll probably be out on vacations to the beach and the sweet salty ocean. For those days you can’t get out to the beach however why not sit down with your family, a bowl of ice cream and watch a summer themed movie? That brings me to today’s blog because man has it been hot lately and to cool down I finally watched a certain Disney animation which surprisingly released last winter, November 23rd to be precise. Know what movie I’m talking about? Let’s give you a hint, it involves Hawaii and 7.8 too much water without the Pokemon.

I’m talking about Moana.

You’re welcome.

Anyway Moana is another CGI Disney Animation Princess (Kind of Princess?) movie similar to the critically acclaimed movies Tangled (Which I talked about on this blog: and Frozen (I talked about that on this blog: but this movie definitely takes the whole Disney princess thing in a new direction. For one the main character isn’t exactly a princess but you could call her one. (Don’t, she doesn’t actually like that.) Moana is based on ancient Hawaiian folklore, which is already a plus one for me I love pre-USA Hawaiian history.

Hawaiian folklore actually derives from Polynesian mythology and the Polynesia people in general. This also applies to native New Zealanders and many other islands in the pacific. See if we go back far, and I mean pretty far the Polynesian people originated from places like Taiwan and the Philippines. These guys had some pretty good boats and were good at sailing with a thirst for exploration and expansion so with their Polynesian mythology at their backs they hit the oceans and colonized many islands some you will know as Fiji, New Zealand and Hawaii. (Known as Hawai’i) Actually Hawaii and New Zealand are some of the newest Polynesian colonization. Anyway I could go on and on about the history of the Pacific Ocean and it’s inhabitants (Okay I have to admit the pacific ocean is my favorite when it comes to history.) but back to the movie. Moana is based heavily on Hawaiian folklore and so features many elements from that, actually one of Hawaii’s biggest culture heroes, ancient chief and practical tricksters is one of the main characters of this movie, Maui. (You know like the island Maui except Maui was actually not named after Maui the demigod but after the son of Hawaii’s discoverer who was named after Maui.)

The story takes place early in Hawaii’s history before the Polynesian people had even landed on what would become Hawai’i. To start things off we hear a story about how the world and it’s land came to be, thanks to the goddess Te Fiti. However a precious stone was stolen from her by Maui, the wind and shapeshifting, only problem is this is actually her heart. He plans to give the stone to humanity as a gift but in taking the stone he unleashes darkness upon the world, monsters soon arrive on the surface world and islands begin to wither. Maui is soon attacked by a giant lava demon Te Kā (I wish I had a keyboard that made all these accented letters easier to type.) and loses the stone to the ocean.

Flash forward a millennia we reach the story’s starting point, a Polynesian island named Motunui. (It’s a real island.) The story you hear in the beginning is actually told by the chief’s mother and our protagonist’s Grandmother. We soon meet the main protagonist and the movie’s namesake, Moana, daughter of the island Chief. While the other kids are scared of the stories Moana is stricken with curiosity and adoration for the folklore. Soon afterwards Moana is chosen by the ocean to receive the heart of Te Fiti and return it to it’s original resting place though Moana clumsily drops the stone when her father, Tui comes to bring her back to their home. 

After a song about staying on the island and becoming the chief (There’s a lot of music and dancing in this movie, just giving you a warning now.) we flash back to a few years later. See the island Chief and those who came before him decided the oceans were too dangerous and stayed on the island, never traveling beyond the reef. Moana’s curiosity about the ocean beyond the reef has grown in time but starts to come to her father’s side and see her possible future as chief. With both her love for her people and the love for the ocean Moana becomes conflicted and insecure but with the island’s resources running scarce her love for the ocean and setting sail finally gains a purpose and Moana soon learns the stories her Grandma told might just be real after all. With one final tale from Grandma and the heart of Te Fiti regained Moana sets out to find Maui and make him return the heart. Oh yeah and a certain chicken named Hei Hei who may not be the most intelligent chicken in the world come along for the ride.

Overall the storyline of this movie is absolutely great and it pulls from so many awesome Hawaiian and Polynesian folktales which immediately got my interest. I’ve always been interested in those folktales and that’s probably why I loved Pokemon Sun and Moon so much, though Alola’s folklore is based more on the tales from when Hawai’I was already established and had a kingdom. The characters to fill this story are even more wonderful with a lot of personality in the two main protagonists Moana and Maui. Moana is conflicted (At first.) yet strong willed, adventures, passionate and a go getter girl who cares for her people and will see her mission through. Maui is more self-absorbed and arrogant though he does act heroic and wishes to make humanity happy, while getting the glory in the meantime. Both of these characters grow immensely throughout the film. While a supporting character I think one of my, if not my favorite character in the film may just be Moana’s Grandma. She’s wise yet full of fun and what she calls the village’s crazy lady. The history of Moana’s people is not lost on her and she wishes to see Moana’s people return to their lives as Voyagers.

This movie’s story is a much different story then one present in previous Disney Princess movies (It’s technically a Disney Princess movie?) and really stands out. Actually I just realized there’s kind of a trinity of CGI Disney movies now, we have Tangled, Frozen and now Moana all three are unique. I have to say Moana may of topped Tangled as my favorite out of these three because of how absolutely gorgeous the movie is. The animation is so brilliant and beautiful you’ll be captivated by the amazing visuals. Every little detail sparkles with inspiration from the old Hawaiian/Polynesian days and I applaud the Disney for how much research they put into this movie. Another point derived from the Hawaiian ways is the music and dancing. Yeah music and dancing is a normal occurrence in Disney movies but it makes a lot more sense in this movie. (Not saying Let It Go was bad, overplayed maybe.) Dwayne Johnson seems to be in a lot of movies lately and is even slated to play Black Adam in the DC Movie Universe starting with SHAZAM! I I also did not realize until this movie that Dwayne Johnson could actually sing but hey you learn something new every day. Dwayne and Auli’I really killed it with their characters and I probably couldn’t have thought of anyone else to play these parts. This actually was Auli’I’s debut role in a movie playing a character and I thought she had a wonderful voice so I would like to see how she can take her career going into the future.  Another character I loved wasn’t in it long but was Tamatoa, a giant gold loving crab played by Jemaine Clement. (Famous for playing Jerry the Minion in Despicable Me, yeah the minions all have separate voice actors, bet you didn’t know that.)

I actually noticed a few references and call backs to another waterlogged Disney Princess movie, The Little Mermaid. There are a few quips and throwbacks here and there I caught and I wasn’t surprised to find out this movie was directed by the same duo that directed The Little Mermaid, Ron Clements and John Musker. (They also directed the kind of recent Princess and the Frog movie.)

I actually forgot about this but this movie has actually been in the works for quite a few years, over 5 to be exact. It’s no new thing to hear that Disney movies take a long time, a lot of work and revision go into these movies but I actually remember now seeing concepts for what would become this movie not long after Frozen first released. For some reason I can’t find this concept art anymore only the more recent art but I do remember seeing some fairly early concepts a few years ago.

Anyway this movie is an absolutely gorgeous film that will captivate you and your kids/sibilings/friends basically everyone, this movie is one all can enjoy it has a little bit of beauty for everyone. It will intrigue you to dive deeper into Polynesian Folklore as it as me. You know what though? I just remembered a certain other Hawaiian Disney movie though set in the present time, Lilo and Stitch. Odd I wonder if this movie is like an ancestor prequel to Lilo and Stitch in which both are set in the same world just a thousand years apart, kind of gets you thinking doesn’t it? Another piece of truth I discovered in this movie is that there actually was a point in time where the Polynesian people stopped voyaging, not voyaging and discovering Hawaii again until 800 A.D. Amazing how much they put into this movie. For those wanting to watch it right now if you have Netflix you’re in luck! For those wanting a more permanent solution you can buy this movie on iTunes for $19.99 HD and $14.99 SD. It’s also available for rent as well. This movie will make an awesome summer family movie, I would know I’ve seen it twice already.

Oh yeah there are coconut guys who look like Shy Guys from Mario... Or maybe that's just me imagining things.

Before I move on there have actually been two movie releases (Okay one was a premiere not a release but I’ll get to that.) I wish to talk about real quick. First off the brand new Power Rangers movie is now out on DVD and if you want it on iTunes it’s $14.99 for HD and $14.99 for SD (I don’t get it when they do this.) and it’s available for rent. I haven’t gotten around to seeing this movie yet despite being a big Power Ranger fan but don’t worry, it’s coming.
Next up, Spider-Man: Homecoming had it’s theatre premiere in Hollywood yesterday. It seems to be a smash hit so far but you’ll have to wait until July 6th to see the movie yourselves in theatres!

With that said and done we’re going to wrap with my Free Knitting Pattern feature!  Was going to try and feature a Moana based pattern but sadly it doesn’t seem to be as popular with the knitters as frozen so I have to pass on that. However it’s still summertime so I’m continuing my summertime knitting features. (Actually I’ll be starting my pre-Christmas knitting patterns soon… Where is this year going?!) Like last time I’m featuring another top for you ladies. Today’s knitted pattern is “Gemini” by Jane Richmond.

While it may seem simple this top has a really nice lace pattern on the shoulders and would actually be another good pattern for those wanting to get into knitting tops. You will need 1 set US 5/3.75mm double-point needles, set of 5, 1 set US 6/4mm double-point needles, set of 5, 24-inch length US 5/3.75mm circular needle and one 32-inch length US 6/4mm circular needle for this pattern.

This pattern comes in various sizes but you’ll also need some DK Weight yarn and all the recommended amount is in the pattern on! Also check out more of Jane Richmond’s patterns here:

That’s a wrap folks! 

No comments:

Post a Comment