Walt Disney Studios has dominated theaters in 2016 with animated smash box-office hits like Zootopia and most recently Pixar's Finding Dory. Live-action adaptations like The Jungle Book surprised audiences with realism and heart, while Marvel's Captain America: Civil War is easily the biggest superhero ensemble movie of the year. Disney will continue to bring us new and original animated features and quite the impressive roster of live-action adaptions in the future, including Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, next year.
Moana, the next original animated film from Disney, follows the adventures of Moana (Auli’I Cravalho) a young girl and descendent of a long line of Southern Pacific sailors who sets out to fulfill a mission that her ancestors were unable to finish. Her goal is to explore the many tropical islands of Oceania in hopes of discovering why sea voyages came to a halt 3,000 years ago. Like every Disney film, Moana has quirky sidekicks to accompany her on her adventure: a cute little pig named Pua, a chicken named Hei Hei, and a goofy demigod named Maui (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson).
The film's Japanese teaser trailer (see above) introduces us to baby Moana as she meets the sea for the first time. Moana is a naturally curious and adorable little tot who discovers that she has a special connection with the ocean. At first she is a bit timid as the water rushes up to her feet, but she eventually feels right at home as the ocean actually reaches out to hug her. The clear blue water splits in half and invites her in to explore the many wonders of the sea, like brightly-colored fish, conch shells, and friendly sea turtles. In the background you can hear her father calling her name, a reminder that the film will focus on Moana's desperate search for her ancestors.
Moana, from the legendary Mouse House directing duo Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) has a voice cast that includes Alan Tudyk (who also voiced characters in Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia), Hamilton alum Phillipa Soo, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Maui, and Auli’I Cravalho as Moana. Disney's sea adventure film was written by Clements and Musker in collaboration with Pamela Ribon (Samantha Who?), Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) and Jared Bush (Zootopia). Moana will feature all new original songs co-written by Hamilton's famed creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In the current cinematic landscape of prequels, sequels, and reboots it's refreshing to see that Disney is still a creative powerhouse, developing original films for fans to enjoy. While the studio isn't shying away from franchise-building, Disney Animation Studios is also bringing us new adventures. Moana shows promise of being a successful animated feature with memorable characters and a deep-seated story focused on family.
Moana arrives in U.S. theaters on November 23rd, 2017
Source: Walt Disney Animation Studios
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