Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review: 3.5 / 5 stars (three and a half stars)
Featured actors: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong
Director: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada
What is good: Moana was the last time I thought it was a Disney-Pixar movie, but it was just Disney and we all know how that movie turned out!
What is bad: Another big screen experience sneaking into the small screen (for most of them).
Loo break: Just a little over 100 minutes, don’t even ask for an intermission
Watch or not ?: The well-written drama triumphs over the humorous aspect of the story, making it a feel-good “ escape ” Disney movie.
The story catches your eye in the first few minutes, as it connects the otherwise stereotypical ferocious dragons (remember GOT? A show that ended as badly as that sentence.) With world peace. Following the usual route of animated storytelling, we learn how the dragons sacrificed themselves to save their Kumandra territory from the sinister Druun monsters. If you have to imagine Druun, think of Thanos’ purple destructive powers meeting those muddy sand monsters from Tremors (1990).
The last dragon Sisu (voiced by Awkwafina), leaves a gem which then divides the inhabitants of Kumandra against each other. People from six regions named after dragon body parts (such as Fang, Talon and more). But the gem resides with Heart protected by Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) and her father, Chief Benja (voiced by Daniel Dae Kim). People from all regions want this gem, but Benja and Raya only want to unite everyone to fight to bring back the dragons.
Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review: Script Analysis
I know a lot of you are still here to listen to the “Avengers” analogy, you’re just listening to me. So, the history of the movies has “gems” that the “heroes” must gather to destroy the “evil” that ultimately saves the world. Aren’t we all a little familiar with this story? Didn’t we see him in a multi-billion dollar movie or something like that? Maybe Martin Scorsese could answer that. Now that I’ve addressed the elephant in the room, back to the dragons… I meant the movie. A little clarification: The entire Avengers angle is just a fun take, and it doesn’t impact the experiences.
The screenplay by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim (author of Crazy Rich Asians) fits effortlessly into the three-act structure of the story. He establishes the characters in the first 30 minutes, sends them on missions within the next 30 minutes, and gives them a fitting farewell towards the end. It’s like Disney is talking about inspiring longtime partners Pixar to add an extra layer of emotional depth while still managing to keep the aura and essence alive.
One of the important things, why history works, is that it never takes itself too seriously. Despite all the preaching of “ confidence ” and the fight against dragons, there is an abundance of intelligent one-liners. How the Awkwafina dragon presents himself as “the one who did not participate much in the group project but is still part of it”. Little details like these help this movie stand out from the fantastic Disney stories. While waiting for the credits to end, I came across a funny “thank you note” written by the creators. Part of it says, “The making of this film from over 400 single-family homes was unprecedented.”
Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review: Star Performance
Kelly’s Raya Marie Tran directs the series, but to keep things balanced, the creators never let Raya tackle issues on her own. She has people to help her, and that’s what makes Raya what she is. Awkwafina adds the required quirk to a very “ animated ” character (pun definitely intended).
Gemma Chan is good as the opposing warrior princess Namaari but suffers from a very predictable approach to sketching out the character. I expected more from the character of Sandra Oh (Namaari’s mother) because that wasn’t the best contribution she could have made. Okay, I can’t stop talking about the Avengers, but we have Doctor Strange’s associate Benedict Wong voicing the giant warrior Tong’s name.
Special Mention: TukTuk is another addition to Disney’s legacy that is all about drawing adorable characters. It’s Raya’s pill bug and if you don’t know what it is, imagine a roll-up snail encountering BB-8 (Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Disney’s approach to this nervous animal elicits some really good laughs. TukTuk also means rickshaw in Thai, and as a pet it helps Raya get from place to place. Smart – eh or meh?
Raya and the Last Dragon movie review: direction, music
Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada could easily have tried to emulate what Pixar did, but they didn’t. Yes, the limit of “learning something to improve yourself” is the same, but Don and Carlos keep the magic of Disney alive. The message of trusting yourself never comes across your face, which is a plus keeping management in mind.
James Newton Howard’s background score matches the explosion of vivid color on the screen. By staying within the preferred decibel line, the score is never too loud. It maintains a great blend of the retro dragon era touch and the electronic fusion of the day. It systematically complements the sequences by adding a melodious purpose to the already fascinating things that happen in the story.
Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, following a similar phrase of “keep something for everything”, this is not a film just for children. He talks about heartbreak, he always talks about confidence, he talks about the messy world but adding an almost perfect amount of Disney magic to it. Don’t miss it!
Three and a half stars!
Raya and the Last Dragon Trailer
Raya and the last dragon released on March 03, 2021.
Share with us your viewing experience Raya and the last dragon.