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Moana Movie Review

Reviewed by on Nov 22, 2016
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw the latest Disney animated adventure-with-music movie Moana. Is this Disney princess different from the rest? Will her quest and the great music inspire you? Check our movie review!

By: Lynn Barker

On a gorgeous pacific island, 16-year-old chief’s daughter Moana (voice of beautiful newcomer Auli’i Cravalho), is taught by her dad to serve her people in a traditional, don’t rock the boat way. This feisty girl has always been drawn to the ocean and to trying to sail beyond the reef where her people are forbidden to go. When the sea actually gives her a big reason to bust tradition, she’s down!

Character shot of MoanaCharacter shot of MoanaCourtesy of Disney


Island chief’s teen daughter Moana has always been drawn to the sea which freaks out her dad who went to sea as a kid only to lose a friend. She’s forbidden to sail let alone cross the reef to open sea. Moana’s grandmother (voice of Rachel House) who also loves the ocean, tells Moana the story of shape-shifter Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), a demi-God who took the “heart” of powerful island goddess Te Fiti and disappeared. The “heart” is now in the form of a stone.

Character shot of MauiCharacter shot of MauiCourtesy of Disney


When fishing, local plants and other things that keep Moana’s people alive and well fail, the sea, a living entity, gives her the stone heart and wants her to find Maui and return it to the island of the goddess. Then, all will be well with her people. Of course, in order to do this, she will have to sail far beyond the reef in open sea. Grandmother tells her that once her people were great sailors and explorers, crossing huge oceans to discover and settle many islands but that skill and quest has been lost.

Moana's ocean-loving Grandma TalaMoana's ocean-loving Grandma TalaCourtesy of Disney

The Quest on the Sea

Moana finds a huge cave full of very large canoe-like ships that haven’t sailed in ages. They tell the story of her ancestors as Grandmother told her. “We’ve forgotten who we are”. The islands are all dying. “Someone” must find Maui and get the heart back to the goddess it was stolen from. The ocean chose her. Moana takes one of the ships and sails to find Maui.

Moana tries to charm Maui into helping her on her questMoana tries to charm Maui into helping her on her questCourtesy of Disney

The Daring Duo

After close calls, Moana finds Maui and his magical giant fish “hook” that allows him to shapeshift…or it used to. He seems to have lost his power. He is a prideful, self-centered egotist but charming as well. With the help of the sea, Moana is able to take the reluctant Maui on her quest to beat an island demon, survive an undersea adventure with a giant, blinged-out crab, learn to be a “way-finder” on the sea like her ancestors and more!  Will she and Maui please the goddess, beat the demon and return the islands to life?

On the voyage to return the heart of the islandOn the voyage to return the heart of the islandCourtesy of Disney

Wrapping Up

Moana is a combo of a call to adventure/quest film with a buddy vibe and a great self-empowerment message. The look of the movie is beyond gorgeous. The lighting, the animated sea and the Polynesian music all make you want to get on the first plane for a tropical isle! Little touches like the “living” tattoos all over Maui’s bodybuilder bod telling his life story give the film a special charm.

Maui is happy that his magic hook worksMaui is happy that his magic hook works

Moana is certainly the best animated movie set in the Polynesian culture since 2002’s Lilo & Stitch. Teen Moana is a born leader and determined to serve her people HER way. You GO girl! Refreshingly, she is also not pining away for some prince. The sea calls her and she responds…it’s her decision. Love it. Also love that Moana has a “solid” look. She’s not a size 2 folks!

Moana's parents Tui and SinaMoana's parents Tui and SinaCourtesy of Disney

Hawaiian newcomer Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson as Maui deliver their bickering lines beautifully. Their evolving relationship reminds us of young, feisty Mattie and tough old Rooster Cogburn in the 2010 movie True Grit , Hailee Steinfeld’s first film.  

Maui about to shapeshiftMaui about to shapeshift

Songs, especially those written by Broadway uber-star Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame and co-written with longtime Disney composer Mark Mancina (The Lion KingTarzan) and the Samoan-born bandleader Opetaia Foa’i, are catchy and memorable, especially the Dwayne Johnson-sung bragfest “You’re Welcome” and the driving adventure tune “We Know the Way”.

There is a sweet short movie called Inner Workings accompanying the film that shows how the human body responds, organ by organ, to boredom, excitement etc. and how we can make choices that make everything inside us happier. Very creative.

A drawing for Inner WorkingsA drawing for Inner WorkingsCourtesy of Disney

The film Moana succeeds on several levels and she never gives up despite some hefty obstacles. We need that inspiration right now. We go five stars. 

Moana​ Movie Rating: 4

Moana PosterMoana PosterCourtesy of Disney

Moana is now in theaters!


Have Your Say

Are you into Disney female characters? Is a strong, independent Disney princess your fave? Are you a Dwayne Johnson fan? Leave a comment!