Moana (PG) ★★★★
Directed by: Ron Clements et al
Starring: Dwayne Johnson & Auli’i Cravalho

What's the story?

BORN with a spirited streak running through her veins, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is the daughter of a Polynesian chief. Heir to the throne, she’s not your typical princess type, but independent, intelligent, brave and selfless, Moana has all the makings of a great leader.

Surrounded by the natural beauty of their small island, Moana and her people live in peace and tranquillity and the vast ocean surrounding them providing everything they need to survive.

However, when a dark foreboding force takes hold of the island, and plants and fish suddenly begin to decay, Moana’s people are in danger of dying out. Their perfect world, it seems, is coming to an end.

Unafraid of the mysteries that lie beyond the horizon, Moana sets out on a journey to reunite a long lost gemstone – thought to be behind the mysterious infliction on the island – to its rightful owner, Te Fiti the goddess of the ocean.

But, in order to return the precious stone, she needs to seek out and enlist the help of shape-shifting demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson), who turns out to have an ego as big as his biceps.

Yep, this is one adventure that doesn’t go according to plan...

Any good?

Boasting the creative talent of four directors who gave us the likes of Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and The Princess and the Frog (to name but a few), Disney’s latest animated triumph is an enchanting and invigorating adventure that delivers everything you’d expect from an animation studio as successful and revered as this one.

The animation is flawless, with the bright and vibrant beauty of the Polynesian landscapes beckoning you into a natural world of lush beautiful islands, and the vast and diverse majesty of the sea. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

And, while we know that Disney is the master when it comes to creating magical worlds of jaw-dropping wonder, Moana’s simple yet engaging storyline draws us in with a plot that’s easy enough for the kiddies to follow, yet has a raw emotional core that’s completely immersive and captivating. It’s got genuine heart, with sincere sentiment amid its deeply spiritual undertones.

In a sense, the characters are larger than life, but it’s easy to buy into them with their subtle (and not so subtle) traits. While Moana is feisty and determined, Maui is a loveable buffoon in the nicest possible sense. Dwayne Johnson and Auli'i Cravalho deliver charismatic and delightful performances and effortlessly sink into the skin of their respective characters.

Final word?

Superbly directed, with perfectly timed gags, a witty and humorous script, fantastic animation, brilliant performances, entertaining musical numbers and an emotionally engaging story, what’s not to like?

Moana is an instant Disney classic – don’t miss it!