This week on The HMC's Now Playing Reviews, MOANA, the latest animated film from Disney Pixar studios, is set in Ancient Polynesia where a young girl, Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) embarks on a great quest to return a stone, The Heart of the Ocean, to its rightful owner restoring life to the island where her people live. Aiding her on her quest, Maui (Dwayne Johnson), a demo-God who thrust them into this fine mess by stealing The Heart of the Ocean, must recover his mystical hook to regain his shape shifting powers and redeem himself.
The cast is rounded out by some veteran New Zealand actors including Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and the amazing Rachel House (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) as Gramma Tala.
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) co-wrote the original songs along with Opetaia Foa'i, original score and songs by Mark Mancina.
Despite the films stunning visuals and many fun moments (Look for Jemaine as a giant singing crab), the story itself has a dragging second act and too many unexplained anecdotes--Most notably; when Moana and Maui are attacked by a giant ship filled with coconut pirates who also want to recover The Heart of the Ocean in Moana's possession. It's one of the coolest sequences in the film from a visual perspective, but completely out of left field and these coconut pirates, though super fun, are never given an origin story or explanation as to why they too our pursuing the stone.
Though it may not secure its position in the Pixar hall of fame, by our measure, MOANA is fun and entertaining and visually fantastic. And bonus! The Rock sings, can this guy do literally everything???
Justice for MOANA, it gets a 8.3/10 on the Justice & Doom Movie Meter 8.3/10