Moana | Third Space


Is she the latest Disney princess?
Tue 4 Jul 2017

3 out of 5 stars

Moana: I am not a princess.
Maui: If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.

The creative team of Ron Clements and John Masker that brought us The Little Mermaid has gone back to the beauty of the ocean to bring us the new Disney adventure, Moana. The technological advancements since the 1989 classic was released give this seafaring adventure a new wave of possibilities. Partnering with the voice talents of Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence) and tapping into the mythology of the islands, the House of Mouse should sail away with another hit. Yet, is there something for parents to consider before sending the kids off to theatres this holiday season?

Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is the daughter of the chief on the Polynesian island of Motunui, but her heart is drawn to the ocean waters surrounding the island. When the fishing and farming community begin to suffer because of the lack of fish and a blight on the island’s plant life, Moana is chosen to search out the demigod, Maui (Dwayne Johnson). He is to blame for the difficulties plaguing the island, because he stole a heart stone of the goddess Te Fiti. The young princess must convince Maui to travel with her to recover his source of power and then return the heart of the goddess.

This may not sound like the typical workings of Disney Animation, but things seem to work out when they are put through the magical formula of this studio. The combination of groundbreaking animation, inspiring score, the hottest voice talent available and comedic animal sidekicks will continue their winning streak in theatres. They are so comfortable and confident with this formula, they are even willing to have a go at their own expense within the comedic dialogue between the lead characters. This proven blueprint is a strength for Disney, but does offer some weaknesses to the overall experience of Moana. The songs are not as memorable as Frozen, the comedy is not as original as Aladdin, and the animation is reminiscent of Finding Dory. When the key element that received the most audience belly laughs was Hei Hei the chicken, it does suggest that something new should be on offer for the next outing from this studio.

This island hopping adventure was engaging, beautiful and fun. It will provide parents with a safe option for the holidays and the Disney merchandising team with new characters on offer for Christmas. But before taking the kids along to see this latest cinematic offering, it might be worth considering a few things first.

What should parents know about Moana?

In dealing with the mythology of Polynesia, it would be good for parents to have a chat about the spiritual realm. Unlike Hercules, which delved deep into the murky world of heaven and hell from Greek mythology. Moana is not as scary as previous outings into the world of celestial beings, but this adventure does include the works of demigods and gods. In their animated state, they can be comical and even scary at times, but they will influence children’s theological views. This is a great opportunity for parents to talk with their children about what they understand and know about God. The Bible provides parents with the tools to have this conversation with confidence and authority.

Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film?

  1. Does the bible say about other gods? (Exodus 20:1-5, Psalms 115:4-11, 135:15-18)
  2. What are the passages about the God of the Bible being the only God? (Exodus 20:1-26, Isaiah 44:6, John14:6, 1 Corinthians 8:6, 1 Timothy 1:5)