Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review: Need something that’s brimming with goodness and cheerful in these bleak times? Feel yourself losing hope on humanity on a daily basis? Think Disney would one day go wrong with its penchant to sticking to its own formulae? Not today, as you should totally check out the studio’s new animated feature – Raya and the Last Dragon, directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada – a winsome film that is at least bound to at least retain more fans for Disney from Asia, after their lacklustre attempt to remake Mulan as a live-action film. Raya And The Last Dragon: Kelly Marie Tran Is Excited to Be the First Southeast Asian Disney Princess.
With Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), Disney has their first South-East Asian princess (Mulan was a warrior, not a princess), though she, like Mulan, is more about fighting for her cause rather than taking care of her kingdom. Well, if your subjects are turned to stones by something that looks like giant purple balls, then all you can do is hitch a ride on your pet – in this case, a giant cross between an armadillo and a pill bug called TukTuk – and then go about rectifying what your fellow humans have brought upon themselves.
For Raya and her father Chief Benja (Daniel Dae Kim) were the protectors of Dragon Gem, that is hidden in the heartland of Kumandra. The Dragon Gem protects the kingdom from those purple balls, called as Drune, brought into existence by dragons who were once saviours of Earth, but turned to stones by Drunes. Only one dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina) remained, and she has gone to hibernation for 500 years.
However, the greed for the stone has divided the kingdom into five warring factions. Benja still has hopes that humanity will come together to save themselves. But Raya loses that hope when the warring factions break the stone while trying to steal it, and is stung more by the treachery of Namaari (Gemma Chan), the princess of Fang Land, who she thought of as a friend. Raya and the Last Dragon Teaser Trailer: Kelly Marie Tran’s Pet Armadillo Steals the Show.
Now it is upto Raya to drive back the Drunes, and for that she has to awaken Sisu. Even with Sisu awakened, the job is half-done, as they need to reunite the stones and with that, humanity as well.
Watch the Trailer:
For most parts of it, Raya and the Last Dragon is an immensely entertaining film that boasts of some very gorgeous animation and visuals and an amazing BG score. The voice-casting is pitch perfect, and the characters are worth rooting for. Raya makes for a very formidable protagonist, who herself goes through a coming-of-age phase even in a mission that calls for her to be the bravest. Thankfully not saddled with any perfunctory romantic track, the premise allows Raya to breathe more easily as a protagonist worth rooting for, just like Moana. And I simply liked how her character was treated in the climax of the film, allowing herself to take a step back to let a bigger cause win. Her whole love-hate saga with Namaari has more heart than her camaraderie with her ‘Guardians of Kamandra’, the latter still providing some of the film’s cutsiest moments (looking at you, Little Noi!).
And then there is the scene-stealer Sisu, voiced by the extremely talented Awkwafina, who is on a roll from her first appearance. The dragon represents the hope for humanity, and thereby bringing in a message that deserves to be reiterated in these times. That said, despite the awesomeness of the character, the movie doesn’t allow Sisu to overshadow the narrative, and especially Raya’s saga.
What’s, however, becoming a bit grating when it comes to Disney animated films, that goes into Raya and The Last Dragon as well, is its tendency to stick to its own faithful set of cliches. So we have that cursory prologue narration, we have the protagonist losing her parent figure, we have a cute animal sidekick (who, gratefully, matters to the plot) and so on. Also, we can’t help but compare certain plotlines of Raya… with that of Moana – just compare Sisu with Maui from the other film – while the climax veers a bit closely to Guardians of the Galaxy.
– Gorgeous To Look At
– Feel-Good Narration with Stellar Voice-Cast
– A Relatable Protagonist
– Tendency of Not Forsaking Disney Cliches
Raya and The Last Dragon, releasing in India in theatres on March 5, is Disney showing off once again its innate ability to come up with immensely feel-good sagas, and strong female protagonists worth rooting for. Buckled up with some lovely visuals and a great voice-cast, Raya and The Last Dragon makes for a wholesome family viewing, even if it does remind you of Disney’s previous offerings.
(The above story first appeared on Report Door on Mar 03, 2021 11:00 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website reportdoor.com).