Raya and the Last Dragon is a gorgeous movie to take in. My wife has been to Southeast Asia and said it’s one of the most beautiful locales in the world, which is reflected in the art design. Second, the story brilliantly captures aspects of storytelling from this region. It feels more Indiana Jones than Frozen, contrasting it from Disney’s all-too-familiar stories of European kingdoms and royalty and reinterpreting the idea of the “Princess.” Each land is led by its best warriors trained in the own brand of hand-to-hand combat.
Lastly, Raya and the Last Dragon‘s message is particularly an important one for children and especially adults in these “divided” times. The film’s themes are peace, grace, and forgiveness. The land is divided due to distrust and jealousy because the “other” land has it better than us. Its subtle, yet essential, message of peace, I fear, will be lost on adults living in these trying times.
“…message is particularly an important one for children and especially adults in these ‘divided’ times.”
Raya and Namaari represent Disney’s recent string of strong female leads. Kelly Marie Tran and Gemma Chan bring great strength with the right amount of vulnerability on their heroes’ quest. Awkwafina, of course, is there for the much-needed comic relief and buried wisdom akin to the Genie from Aladdin, though she’s nowhere near as manic as Robin Williams.
Raya and the Last Dragon sits at my top tier of Disney animated features. It has excellent replay value, marketable characters, and is downright fun. My hope is that the public will clamor for spin-off shorts and features like they did for Frozen. By the way, would it have killed them to put one cute, bouncy musical number somewhere in the film?
"…would it have killed them to put one cute, bouncy musical number somewhere in the film?"
SouthEAST Asian, not South Asian.