Film Thoughts: Moana

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1.
When I watch a (good) animated film, I forget the famous faces behind the cast. During viewing, those actors don’t exist. Their voice becomes that of the character.

The Rock, oddly, is an exception. For some reason, while watching Moana, I wasn’t watching Maui, I was watching The Rock, animated. Something in my brain was going, ‘Okay, The Rock is lifting that boat…The Rocks is turning into an eagle’. Why that happened with him but no one else in my history of watching animation, I’ve no idea. Also odd was that it didn’t negatively affect my experience

2.
Moana is a very good film. Solid from the very beginning, with near-perfect execution towards the end. My sole criticism is that there’s some slightly muddled storytelling around Maui’s reasons for taking the heartstone. I like that the film included these ideas — myth isn’t fact, people can ascribe reasons for actions that may not be true. But, particularly in a kid’s film, a clearer, more graceful exploration of the topic may have helped. You might say kids don’t care about such things. But I think they can subconsciously pick up on them, and lose interest in a story without fully understanding why

3.
I’m far from an expert on music or the work of David Bowie. But during the crab Tamatoa’s musical number, I noticed it sounded Bowie-esque. Was it a tribute to him? Bowie died in January 2016. Moana was released that November. Yet, given the film’s long production cycle, I doubt Bowie died before the song was conceived. Perhaps just a happy coincidence.

4.
One picky thing — at least here in the UK, the main Moana poster depicts her, Maui, and Pua the pig on the boat together. If memory serves, that configuration never happened. Heihei was the only animal with those two. A classic case of Roosterphobia. I blame Trump
5.
Alan Tudyk, of Firefly and Dodgeball fame and actual, proper actor, was the voice of the rooster. Would that clucking have been so different if not voiced by a trained thespian?

6.
Nicole Scherzinger voiced Moana’s mum. Mum? I’m writing this days after seeing the film. I remember Moana’s dad and her crazy grandma, but not her mum. In fact, I think at some point I actually wondered where her mum was, and concocted a theory about how she was dead

7.
The Power of Frozen. At one point Maui rapidly shape-shifts between a number of animals and fish. Each is only on screen for around half a second. He briefly changes into a reindeer. Three different kids shouted “Sven!” (the reindeer from Frozen). That damn film is never far from kid’s minds, even three years after its release

8.
The pirate attack was so well done. Great shots and editing, a full-fledged Hollywood-quality action scene

9.
Maui was on some Han Solo arrive-at-the-last minute steez during the lava monster battle. Somehow, characters get more audience appreciation for selfishly leaving, then coming back at the last possible moment, than they do for just staying there and fighting the good fight throughout. People have no appreciation for the real heroes

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