Moana 3D Blu-ray Review
Nothing about MOANA stood out to me as being something I’d be interested in. In fact, I’d say MOANA had me nervous that Disney was getting back to their old late 90’s ways of churning out animated movies too quickly and with not enough quality. After all, we just had the wonderful ZOOTOPIA earlier in the year. But my fears were quickly laid to rest as MOANA turned out to be one of the better Disney animated films in recent memory.
The story centers on Moana (Cravalho), a young island girl that dreams of sailing the seas despite her father’s rules of never venturing past the reefs. She takes comfort in the words of her grandmother, who encourages her free spirited behavior and tells Moana that she was chosen by the sea to find the demigod Maui (Johnson) and force him to return the heart of Te fiti in order to prevent their world from turning to ash. Moana accepts the challenge and with the help of the ocean, she finds Maui and convinces him to help her set things right.
Although Disney abandoned the animated musicals in the late 90’s, they found their way back and it seems to be paying off very well for them. I’m sure the proceeds from the FROZEN soundtrack paid for a few mansions at the Disney offices. Disney struck gold again with the music in MOANA, thanks in large part to the incredibly talented Lin-Manuel Miranda and a surprisingly fun song sung by Dwayne Johnson. These songs have a way of sticking in your head and without warning, you find yourself singing “You’re Welcome” every time someone thanks you. The songs are a huge part of MOANA and greatly contribute to making it a very fun film.
The great soundtrack is definitely a selling point, but MOANA is much more than a series of musical numbers. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and was surprised by how invested I was in both Moana and Maui. Dwayne Johnson can add “voice actor” to the list of things he’s good at because he nailed every line. He gave Maui life and charm that might have been absent with a less talented actor. But perhaps my favorite part of the film was the ending, which is usually where animated films struggle. But I loved how they wrapped everything up and brought their journeys to a close.
MOANA is not only a fun film, but it offers a nice message to little kids about making mistakes, acceptance and forgiveness. It’s all wrapped in a nice, Disney bow, but it works on just about every level. While the other animated studios struggled mightily to make a decent animated film, Disney managed to hit two home-runs with ZOOTOPIA and MOANA (three if you count Pixar’s FINDING DORY).
3D BLU-RAY REVIEW
The 3D presentation of MOANA is efficient, but I would hesitate to say it’s impressive. This wasn’t the kind of film that was going to take full advantage of the 3D technology and although it looks fine in 3D, there wasn’t anything here that blew me away in terms of quality or effects.
Video: I can’t remember the last time Disney released a lackluster video presentation for a new film and MOANA certainly wasn’t going to be the first. The film looks stunning on Blu-ray.
Audio: The DTS track is also impressive, offering an immersive viewing experience, especially when coupled with the 3D.
Commentary with John Musker and Ron Clements: These two offer a very fun commentary and keep things moving the entire time. It’s clear they had a real passion for the film, which came through on screen. They cover everything you’d want to know about the film.
Gone Fishing (2:30): This is a mini-movie featuring Maui struggling with his food.
Inner Workings (6:30): The filmmakers talk about their short film for about a minute before the film starts. It’s a cute film.
Voice of the Islands (31:10): This half-hour documentary-type film is focused on the people of the Pacific Islands. They tie things back to the film, but it’s really an exploration of the culture on the islands.
They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana (12:35): The great songs in the film get a decent featurette.
Deleted Scenes (25:55): Seven scenes in various stages of production are included.
Things You Didn’t Know About…(4:00): Two different featurettes, one featuring the actors and directors and the other the film’s musicians, where they answer a series of fun, silly questions.
The Elements Of…(15:13): Four mini-featurettes that cover how various scenes and elements of the film were created.
Fishing for Easter Eggs (2:50): Dwayne Johnson and Auli’i Cravalho introduce the younger viewers to various fun facts hidden in the film.