New Disney Renaissance – Moana

 From a ten year period (1989-1999) Disney had unparalleled success.   Box office records, critical acclaim, Academy Awards.   This period of time was called the Disney Renaissance From a ten year period (1989-1999) Disney had unparalleled success.  Box office records, critical acclaim, Academy Awards.  This period of time was called the Disney Renaissance

By Thomas Hester II

From a ten year period (1989-1999) Disney had unparalleled success.

Box office records, critical acclaim, Academy Awards.

This period of time was called the Disney Renaissance

Starting with the Little Mermaid these movies were a return to the animated musical of old.

The documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty is about that rise and peak of that time, specifically from the beginnings of Little Mermaid to the mega success of Lion King.

Though 2D animation is all but gone

And after seeing Moana I believe Disney is in the midst of a new Disney Renaissance.

This period is currently open ended but so far I’d say the return to Disney animated musicals began with the Princess and the Frog.

For the past two weeks my niece has been requesting one consistent thing, listening and repeating the Moana soundtrack.

This reminded me of growing up and being obsessed with Lion King or Toy Story

My older sister told me about how great the movie was as well and that it wasn’t just a “kids” movie.

So I finally saw and they were right.

I didn’t doubt that it would be good because I saw some of the teasers for it

[I dislike trailers because they show too much]

But it was truly amazing.

The film was directed by Disney legends who helped build the first Disney Renaissance and the beginnings of a new one, John Musker and Ron Clements, [Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules]

One of the first things that stick out to me is how beautiful the animation is.

It feels like a huge world, the vast ocean, the green forage and the beauty of the people shine through.

As both the singing and voice actor of the titular character Moana Auli’i Cravalho is such a great talent and this being her acting debut she does a phenomenal job.

Dwayne [The Rock] Johnson plays Maui a demigod who is a shapeshifter trickster with a past.

I knew he could sing because of his Concerts with The Rock in WWE and even in movies like The Gameplan. But he blew me away with the song Your Welcome

Speaking of the songs Lin Manuel Miranda did such an amazing job

My favorite is Where You Are which is sung by Tony Award nominee Chris Jackson.

Moana’s father and mother instead of encouraging exploration praises the benefits of staying on the island of Motunui.

As the creator of Tony Award winning In The Heights and Hamilton he has brought his rapid and unique musical stylings to the forefront.

This movie does such a great job building in anticipation.

When the music comes it’s such a needed moment and he delivers.

There’s no doubt in my mind that he will receive an Oscar for Best Original Music for an Animated feature.

What this movie does and it’s a trait that is through all of these recent Disney animated releases Moana recognizes and combats stereotypes.

There are jokes in the movie about how she is not a princess but a daughter of the chief and is self aware of the tropes of animated musicals which is a great treat for the older audience.

The character that steals the show in my opinion was the grandmother.

Deemed as cooky and crazy the islanders dismiss her tales of mystical creatures like Maui and instead focus on being self sufficient on the island.

Played by Rachel House Gramma Tala balances both humor and advice seamlessly.

She encourages Moana to listen to the voice inside and recognize who she is.

All of the twists and turns in the story kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time and after it was over my instinct was the discover more about the island culture which Moana portrays beautifully.

The sky’s the limit for Disney especially after both releases after Frozen were received well.

Who knows what’s next for Disney but I believe this string of hit movies can continue for years to come.

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