The fortes of Moana include some very nice songs and state of the art animation that floored me throughout the entire run time. It isn't necessary a classic or the best animation the year has seen so far either, but it is an adventure tale that delivers to its audience, particularly the younger viewers. An overall solid film that continues Disney's ostensibly endless streak of high quality production that doesn't seem like its about to end any soon.
As the film starts, we are given quite a similar opening to Beauty and the Beast, a series of moving graphics setting up the backdrop and giving out basic information. The film then leads to a montage redolent to the old Disney Renaissance film Pocahontas, which strikes an alarming bell in my mind considering I am not a fan of that movie. Indeed I knew there would be quite a lot of resemblance to older Disney flicks like Lilo & Stich, and it can't help it since that the setting of the story. It might look fresh at first glance, but think deeper you will realize that Moana starts off in a familiar note. It isn't any more original than fellow 2016 Disney animation Zootopia, but considering that Zootopia did an exceptionally good job critically and financially I don't see many people entering this one with much doubt on that aspect.
Besides, when the film progresses, it starts to shake its association with the predecessors and begin a journey of its own. It is a great adventure, nevertheless. I would say that the story does not contain much of a pop, like it pales in comparison to the enticing neo-noir crime thriller that Zootopia is. Sometimes, on that account, the film tries to add a few more elements in it, either comical or dramatic, with the intention to spice things up a little bit. The pacing suffers a tad because of that, and I can see that in parts of the second act. There is also that inexplicable, incongruous scene featuring a singing, haughty lobster-like monster that gives a musical performance that looks out of place, which I cringed upon watching. I really think that part could be treated a better way. Aside from that matter I do think the relationship between Moana and Maui changes quite too often and I would prefer a clear, smooth changing from bad to good if I could change it, which is cliched but looks better this way. For my last thing about the plot, I do think things are too predictable from start to finish. It does not do like anything very special and iconic or so, and because of that the story isn't as effective or seductive as Disney's recent efforts. Then again this is an adventure film, and the underlying tone of the film as shown in the comic relief moment sand dialogue panders to kids, so I guess this is what they go for and the reason why they didn't make the adventure too dark. No less considering that the people behind Moana, the legendary duo John Muskers and Ron Clement, have gone some distance before into realms of darker adventure tales.
I wasn't so mad as I may sound, because there are certainly some substantial strong points. Job is well done on world building, and I think the leads are pretty solid. Dwayne The Rock Johnson brought charisma to the character of Moui and Moana is a decent strong female character which, although cliched and can be inconsistent sometimes, still is likable. But the biggest standout facets of Moana, ones which I think are what Moana is going to be remembered for, are its songs and animation. Moana is a legit musical, and the muscial numbers are admittedly catchy, like they did put some effort into engendering those. The animation is stunning as hell - its colours so vibrant and stark, the water and waves so photorealistic and sumptuous. Technology has given Moana its place today as one of the big checkpoints in animation technology advancement, and along with The Good Dinosaur, endows firm testament of how much Disney has grown from being the CGI animation neophyte it was on the onset of this century. It is a good sign that we are entering an era where CG films are getting more and more gorgeously looking and delivering better cinematic experiences.
All in all, this is a solid adventure film, which frankly speaking is not as significant as other Disney films like Frozen, Tangled, or even Wreck It Ralph. I would opine that Zootopia is a hands down better film overall, though Moana has the upper hand in the songs and animation aspects. I'd love to see it get nominated, but not to win it because I adore Zootopia. And also, give way to some dark horses like Kubo and the Two Strings and The Red Turtle.