Disney had a stellar year when it came to The Walt Disney Animation Studios. Both Zootopia and Moana were hits with the former winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but that doesn't mean Moana was the lesser of the two. In this author's opinion, Moana will still be loved and praised in 10 years, where Zootopia will remain highly regarded, but mostly forgotten. When John Musker and Ron Clements come together to make a film, they don't know how to make a flop - the exception being Treasure Planet. So, when the duo behind The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Princess and the Frog wanted to make their first CGI animated movie, they devoted endless amounts of time to research and production in order to create a new Disney classic that you can now bring home on Blu-ray. Let's go over why you NEED to add Moana to your collection now!
The movie tells the story of Moana (Auli'i Cravalho), a 16-year-old girl who sets off on a quest to find Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and make him return the heart of Te Fiti to save her island and people from the darkness taking over. Moana's father, the chief, forbids her voyaging past their reef, but she must disobey to follow her destiny.
What can I say about Moana? First, its great to see Disney once again develop such a strong female character instead of following typical princess tropes. Next, the animation is stunningly gorgeous. It may not be the same massive world created for Zootopia, but the character design and colors make the the film jump off the screen. Finally, the music, the music, the music. Don't let Lin-Manuel Miranda's name attached make you worried that Disney was just looking to use him for his success with "Hamilton" - the hit Broadway musical wasn't even finished when his work began on Moana. The collaboration between Miranda, composer Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa'i created catchy lyrics with a sweeping score, while still honoring the Pacific culture.
If you can't tell - I love Moana. Check out this article for a full review of Moana.
Disney knocked the special features for this Moana release out of the park. Granted, the shorts and features included are still going to be mostly of interest for the biggest fans and movie buffs, but boy are they great. Let's take a look at the must watch special features.
Voice of the Islands - This is about as good of a making-of that you could ever ask for and more. This 30 minute long piece shows the filmmakers trip to the islands that helped to inspire the movie and their lives. No, it doesn't go into a lot of the technical details, artistry, story changes, and more that you might expect from a typical behind-the-scenes short, but instead it focuses more heavily on how the movie was made by good research and learning to appreciate the cultures.
The Elements Of... - This four part look at Moana breaks down certain elements like water and hair to focus on how these subtle, but important creations were made. If you were looking for the more hands-on making-of feature, this is where you will get the information you are looking for.
Fishing for Easter Eggs - We all know Pixar for their placement of easter eggs, but there are plenty of little hidden secretes in Moana - some easy to find and some nearly impossible. If you're okay with spoiling the hunt, definitely watch this feature and you'll want to sit down and watch Moana again to see if you can catch them again!
They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana - If you have any appreciation for the music of Moana then you will definitely want to watch this short and you will love it even more. The feature focuses on Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa'i collaborating to produce one of the best Disney soundtracks of all time, and it does not disappoint.
There are even a couple of special features you'll want to pop on for your kids to enjoy.
Gone Fishing - This humorous short adds an extra layer to the Maui story and it will surely leave kids cracking up.
Inner Workings - The short that played before Moana in theaters made its way onto the Blu-ray, and while the story actual has true substance for adults, the gags will appeal to your little ones.
"How Far I'll Go" Around the World - This feature is similar to "Let It Go" sung in a bunch of different languages. It is fun to hear how other languages interpret the Academy Award nominated song that you should know by heart.
The list of special features goes on and on, and there are still many I'd recommend. The Audio Commentary track for Moana is spectacular, and the amount of Deleted Scenes is greatly appreciated. I'd find it hard to believe that Disney could dig up any new material in the future to build on this fantastic assortment of extras.
Moana may not go down in history as the must-see Disney movie in 2016, but it has a chance of matching Frozen for the most played Blu-ray at home. If you didn't already memorize all the word to "You're Welcome" then you'll be an expert before the end of March. The story may not be profound, but the characters, music, and animation elevate Moana to the next level. Pair that with some great bonus features and you have a Blu-ray that you NEED to add to your collection now.
Moana is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD!
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