Movie Review – Moana

Moana

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk, Oscar Kightley, Troy Polamalu, Puanani Cravalho, and Louise Bush.

Directed by: Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker, and Chris Williams Screenplay by: Jared Bush Story by: Ron Clements, John Musker, Chris Williams, Don Hall, Pamela Ribon, Aaron Kandell, and Jordan Kandell Music by: Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda

Premise: Moana has always been fascinated by the ocean and what might lay beyond the protective reef around her home. As the chieftain’s daughter and heir, however, she tries to put those desires aside and learn how to become a good leader. But when pestilence and lack of fish begin to plague her island home, Moana realizes she must go and find the demigod Maui and get him to make things right again. (Rated PG)

Review:

1) Voice Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Auli’i Cravalho as Moana was a treat. Her boundless energy comes across in every line. Dwayne Johnson is a hoot as Maui. The two worked well together, and you could feel the bonds growing between the characters. Alan Tudyk as Heihei was a surprise, but what fun! (Especially as it isn’t a speaking part.) Rachel House and Jemaine Clement added some additional angles to the scope of the film as well. (Clement’s final line after the credits is awesome! :P)

2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Walt Disney Animation Studios outdid themselves with Moana. The film is gorgeous! Fantastic textures, colors, and they do awesome things with the water. The section where Moana is at the beach as a baby was sublime. It will make you feel like you’re actually in Hawaii.

A ton of attention to detail on all things. They use the 3D to full advantage, even making facial crinkles and wrinkles. Moana and Maui’s hair would make anyone jealous!

Heihei fits the “too stupid to die” type character category. They have so much fun with him! Maui’s tattoos are awesome. His mini tattoo version of himself is great. Like a living conscience. When Maui shapeshifts, stay on the lookout for the fishhook and how it’s incorporated into each of his forms. Nice little detail. 🙂

The island goddess and the lava monster were excellent. The cooling lava and resulting igneous rock turned out fantastic. The monster zone and the Kakamoji peoples and boats were fascinating.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: While the film has the look and feel of Hawaii, after doing some quick research, it doesn’t appear that the tale told has anything to do with the legends of the chain of islands. Despite that, it does hold a lot of the trappings of stories dealing with humans and gods. It also definitely has a Hawaiian feel to it.

A lot of themes run through the film. Responsibility, dreams, finding who you are, and more.

The film uses some anachronistic terms/dialogue. But though out of place, some of it is quite humorous. Several in-jokes are tucked away here and there. For example, Maui moving his mini tattoo from one side of his chest to another by muscle movement. A move we’ve seen Dwayne Johnson do in other films. 😛 (There’s a big in-joke at the end of the credits, too! Relates back to the Little Mermaid. :))

Conclusion: Moana is a gorgeous film. Would recommend seeing it in 3D for the spanning views alone. Lots of fun moments and has plenty to keep the kids and adults well entertained.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Movie Review – Zootopia

Zootopia

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, Della Saba, Maurice LeMarche, Raymond S. Persi, and many more.

Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush Screenplay by: Jared Bush and Phil Johnston Story by: Byron Howard, Jared bush, Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon, and Dan Fogelman Art Direction by: Matthias Lechner Music by: Michael Giacchino

Premise: Judy’s dream since she was a little girl was to become a police officer. Everyone discouraged her, but she stubbornly clung to her dreams until she becomes the first bunny officer. Yet it’s when she starts to work in District 1 that she realizes the obstacles to her dream are far from over. If anything, they’ve become greater than before. Putting her job on the line to prove herself, she must place her trust in on a hustling fox to track down a missing otter. Yet this is but the beginning of the mystery of something very wrong going on in Zootopia. (Rated PG)

 

Review:
1) Acting – Toal Thumbs Up: Ginnifer Goodwin was perfect for the role of Judy Hopps. Her voice oozed with the bounciness and the speed you’d expect from a rabbit. Jason Bateman was a lot of fun as the voice of Nick Wilde and made for a good foil to Ginnifer’s Judy. Maurice LaMarche did wonderful work as Mr. Big. Loved Idris Elba’s portrayal of Chief Bogo.  Jenny Slate was adorable as the ever suffering Bellwether. Raymond S. Persi as Flash was a hoot. And Alan Tudyk as the Duke Weaselton? Priceless. 😛

2) Artwork/Animation – Total Thumbs Up: Walt Disney Animation Studios did a marvellous job with the film. The textures were amazing. The wool of Bellwether’s hair, the fluffy bunny fur, the thicker fox hair, you could tell at a glance how they would feel and which would be softer or bouncier than another. As the credits and the film itself will show, they spent a ton of time on research for the plethora of animals represented in the film. The attention to detail was riveting.

Just as fascinating as the different species of animals were to see, the city of Zootopia was a wonder to behold. I especially adored the palm tree building made out of what looked like Tiffany crystal. All one has to do is look at how the city is split to realize the large range of species that live there. It even has weather zones! Each zone (and some areas were zones within zones) was entirely unique, with District 1, the hub of the city, looking eerily familiar.

Lots of little jokes in the details. Especially the neon signs scattered everywhere. This one will be a fun film to see with the DVD player, so you can stop and take your time catching all the cute background additions and fabulous vistas. Too fun!

3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: Though there is a lot to keep the younger kiddos entertained, this particular film’s plot was geared more for the tweens and adults. Lots of delicious layers and themes were explored. Following your dreams, being held back, dreams destroyed and dreams found. Prejudice (from both sides of the predator and non-predator sides), assumptions, the fact actions have consequences – even when you’re not aware of it, forgiveness, understanding, and the fact everyone has a part to play no matter their size or origins.

The mystery of the disappearances was fun and rather unique. Even as one facet of the mystery was solved, more answers remained to be found. There were several lovely twists. And just watching the society in general was a real treat.

4) Music – Total Thumbs Up: Not only is there a totally addicting song from Shakira, but there are several old favorites brought up for the soundtrack as well. Best of all are the BGM/OST tracks by Michael Giacchino as he gives each zone and the story itself some lovely, unique music.

Conclusion: Zootopia is visually and mentally fun! Gorgeous animation, likeable characters, and the complex story make this one a definite winner in my book!

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again!)