Moana, a headstrong heroine | Inquirer Entertainment

Moana, a headstrong heroine

By: - Writing Editor
/ 01:45 AM December 08, 2016

Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson

Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson

Following Disney’s female-empowering efforts, the new animated movie, “Moana,” introduces a princess who emerges from a gender-sensitive culture—she doesn’t face struggles about acceptance, and is adamant about leading her people to uncharted territory, literally and figuratively.

Teen Moana (voiced by Auli’l Cravalho) is next in line to lead her island’s denizens. But her rule seems doomed even before it’s begun, with food becoming scarce due to limitations brought about by threats in the sea.


Forbidden from sailing dangerous waters, Moana goes on a quest to restore safety around her home.


But this requires the aid of the impish demigod from Polynesian mythology, Maui (Dwayne Johnson), who was exiled after stealing a magical jewel from a nature deity.

Moana stubbornly searches the seas for Maui, and when she does find him, she tries to appeal to his more heroic side—but all the once-mighty trickster sees is a way out of his imprisonment.

The film by codirectors John Musker and Ron Clements (whose collaborations include “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin”) visually lures with its soothing colors and intricate tribal designs—it’s a tropical island getaway, brought to vivid, CGI life.

The breezy ambiance, aided by mostly “summer” beats, adds to the movie-going experience. Story-wise, however, there are lulls that break the steady pace.



The heroic journey of the strong-willed protagonist follows familiar routes—she goes against tradition, even against her father’s stern orders, and goes on an expedition rife with tests and challenges.

But she’s also considered the “chosen one,” which gives her advantages over most people, and is destined to better their lives somehow.


That special obligation assigned by cosmic forces adds to the tale’s predictability.

Still, the banter between her and Maui helps make the adventure different, although not entirely lively. Maui’s numerous tattoos tell his story—and one stylized ink drawing of him even acts as his sidekick and conscience, moving around his skin like a separate being!

While it’s not exactly unique, tale-wise, the film wonderfully adds to the non-Caucasian roster of Disney princesses. She and Maui also share a platonic relationship, thankfully—it would’ve been totally contrived, not to mention weird (because of the age difference), to diverge into a romance subplot.

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So, it may be quite the typical heroic transformation, divine help and all, but Moana is a welcome new heroine, an independent leader who thinks of the welfare of others first—the thrill of adventure is just a plus.

TAGS: animation, Disney, Entertainment, Moana, movie

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