Here's the trailer for "Moana." The film is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who previously collaborated on Disney's "The Princess and the Frog." Fun fact: The first draft of the screenplay was written by Taika Waititi, who went on to direct the next film in Marvel's "Thor" franchise.
Critics say "Moana" provides a welcome respite from a divisive, politically toxic election year. Disney appears to hit a high note with the music.
Musicwise, this is one of Disney’s finest, though there’s no “Let It Go”-level standout. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Miranda, creator of “Hamilton,” brings his literary rhymes and hip-hop flair to a collaboration with Samoan singer Opetaia Tavita Foa’i, who with his band Te Vaka provides choral island music. Jemaine Clement (“Flight of the Conchords”) kills it as a bling-obsessed crab; he breaks out his Bowie impression for a phosphorescent-glam number called “Shiny.”
"Moana" is also being heralded as a beautiful animated film faithful to Polynesian folklore
But aside from the visual delights, remarkable heroine, and instant-classic soundtrack, what comes through so beautifully in "Moana" is the care and attention to detail the filmmakers have put to rendering a story about the history and culture of the Pacific Islands. The religious folklore and tradition of voyaging that make up the story have been well-researched, with important input from native people.
That said, Disney has gotten some heat for taking a dramatic artistic license with the Polynesian legend of Maui and perpetuating some negative stereotypes of Polynesian men. Critics seem torn about it.
Some have already voiced their opposition to the fact that Maui, usually depicted as a fairly trim, nimble figure, has here been inflated to proportions more appropriate to Shrek or a sumo wrestler. To argue that the character perpetuates stereotypes of long-haired, heavily tattooed, plus-sized Polynesian masculinity strikes me as both valid and (as is sometimes the case with chiefly race-based critiques) faintly inadequate, not least because it misses the singular comic gusto of Dwayne Johnson’s performance.
But by and large, critics seem to be feeling "Moana." It's rocking a crazy score at Rotten Tomatoes, with over 55 reviews thus far.
And some fans plan to boycott "Moana" because the songs were co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who took some heat after President-elect Donald Trump blasted the cast of "Hamilton" for their treatment of Mike Pence.