[Micro-Review] Moana

Unlike regular reviews, micro-reviews are more condensed and only include a single overall rating score. 

– Spoilers below – 

Hey, everyone! Long time, no post. Now that I’m back, I’m going to settle into the groove again by posting a series of micro-reviews of recent movies. I had about 24 hours to kill during flights, so I watched some movies. Since they aren’t really relevant anymore, I’m just gonna give brief overviews of my thoughts instead of full-fledged reviews. And I should begin posting regularly again within two weeks. Without further ado, though, here is the first micro-review, Moana:

Moana follows the titular soon-to-be chief of an island nation as she embarks on a mission to restore prosperity to the ocean and its islands. Maui, a demigod, stole a jewel from an island for the good of mankind (and his own ego) but inadvertently set off a chain of devastation that would ultimately lead to end of Moana’s island, and possibly all life everywhere. Moana takes it upon herself to find Maui and force him to return the jewel in order to reverse the damage.

This movie received a lot of praise and hype, and it’s undoubtedly good. However, I’m convinced a lot of that positive feedback simply came from the movie having a strong-willed female lead, similar to reactions to Frozen and Wonder Woman, both of which were enjoyable and well-crafted but had their own storytelling flaws swept under the rug as public attention focused more on surface elements of the films. I’m all for a headstrong female lead, but to me Moana’s character was a sort of Achilles’ Heel for the movie, more so in the way the movie presented her.

The whole point of the movie is her finding Maui to have him return the jewel, but in the end Moana does practically everything on her own. That’s great for female empowerment and her character writing, but it ultimately makes Maui feel superfluous, especially when his final piece of development is off-screen. Not to mention when he makes his deus ex machina appearance during the climax, the method of his arrival begs the question of why he could not have just skirted around the volcano demon Te Ka to begin with. That could possibly be explained by saying Te Ka is omnipresent in that area, so I can give that more of a pass. Still, this is far and away Moana’s movie, and Maui just takes a back seat without really contributing much. As a result, he comes off as fairly one-dimensional, which is a shame considering how much room the movie had to explore his background.

I used this entire review to really just harp on one point, but that’s because that’s all I really have to say, as the rest of the movie is pretty standard fare for its genre (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Moana seeks to follow her dreams, she and Maui engage in sidetrack situations that don’t really contribute to the story (Looking at you, coconut pirates), and the power of a good heart ultimately wins out (spoiler alert?). I’m only left with the burning desire to know how in the world both Moana and Maui manage to avoid wardrobe malfunctions given their loose attire. This is the type of hard-hitting question I need answers to, people.

My gripes with Maui’s character writing aside, some stellar animation,  an overall engaging story, and an admittedly catchy main song still allow the movie to succeed. It’s not the best thing since sliced bread, but it’s certainly an exceptional choice for family movie night among a deepening pool of comparatively mediocre animated films.

Moana

Moana
8.3

Overall

8.3 /10

Pros

  • Moana is a likable and relatable protagonist
  • Visuals and animation
  • Songs are fun, though not particularly memorable beyond one or two

Cons

  • Never seems to quite reach the emotional depth for which it strives
  • Maui is practically irrelevant in the long run
  • Important character development is left off-screen
DaCrowz
Founder of Cards on the Table, DaCrowz continues to profess that his opinions on manga, movies, and shows are somehow in good taste despite the fact that he would likely give an "A" rating to the Prison School anime. When he is not being mistaken for Nicholas Hoult in public, he puts most of his energy into convincing the Yu-Gi-Oh! community that Volcanic Scattershot is staple for any deck.