‘Moana’ Blu-Ray Review: You’re Welcome!
The Moana Blu-ray is a triumph, and one of a long line of Disney home video releases that not only entertain, enthrall and enlighten, but they push the envelope of the technology and give fans access to the creative process in a manner that is simply stellar.
After a successful run in cinemas, culminating in an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, the film has arrived on DVD and Blu-Ray. It tells the story of a young girl named Moana (brilliantly portrayed by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho), who is being groomed to take over for her royal father on their Polynesian island.
First, she must go on an adventure to take back the ancient stone of Te Fiti — a powerful symbol lost to the sea many years ago. Moana’s father believes that she is too young to embark on such a mission. With her grandmother Tala’s encouragement, she heads out on the ocean, inspired by her ancestors who successfully navigated these seas. With the help of the Demigod Maui (equally brilliant voice work by Dwayne Johnson), she might just achieve her goal and make her dreams come true. In order to do that, they will first have to find someway to overcome the powerful dark monster, Te Kā.
What makes Moana work so well is two-fold. The voice casting could not be more impeccable. After seeing thousands of young girls, filmmakers had their own bout of fate when Cravalho (a native Hawaiian) walked in and as soon as they heard her sing, they knew that they had found their title character. Not only does she look like Moana in real life (a happy coincidence), but she captures her nuances astoundingly and breathes life into a character that has inspired millions of little girls and will uplift millions more with the home video release.
Then, there’s Johnson. Who knew he could sing so well? His song “You’re Welcome” is just one of a series of stellar songs penned by a songwriting team led by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. Johnson’s voice acting talent is top notch and he utterly nails the bravado nuances needed to bring the demigod to life.
Disney also always insists its filmmakers do a ton of research to richly bring their respective worlds to life. That was clearly done with utmost respect for the people of the Pacific Islands as this film represents them in such a pure manner that viewers will want to dive deeper into the culture, freshly inspired by the movie magic just witnessed.
The 1080p transfer from film to home video is top notch. It is simply gorgeous and one of the most beautiful we have ever seen. The blue waters have never looked so blue on your screen and the greenery of the landscape truly pops.
When it comes to bonus features, we have to start with “Voice of the Islands.” Directors Ron Clements and Don Hall talk about how their team traveled to the Pacific Islands and how the experience forever altered them as human beings, as well as how they were going to tackle their story. “Voice of the Islands” also enlightens us in terms of the area’s rich history, landscape, culture and the local’s refreshing take on life itself. By the conclusion of the just-over-a-half-an-hour featurette, one will feel like you just witnessed a stellar documentary on the region and its inhabitants.
With each feature, Disney pushes the boundaries of what was scientifically possible. With Tangled, they took follicle on film to new levels. When Frozen arrived, snow had never been so realistic. Now with Moana, there are several aspects of our world that Disney animators were challenged with making as believable as possible. Those are broken down in the awesome four-part featurette, “The Elements Of… “
“Mini Maui” shows us how one of Maui’s scene-stealing tattoos came to life. Water puts the focus on how animators were charged with making water not only a character, but to almost live and breathe on the screen as audiences have never seen prior. “Lava” also gets an animated update, along with “Hair” — which tells us how animators pushed the envelope even further from the Tangled days to bring animated hair to a lifelike form.
Miranda was just one spoke in the wheel of awesomeness that created the music of Moana. Joining him was Pacific Islander Opetaia Foa’I and Mark Mancina. Their incredible collaboration is explored in “They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana.” Its spotlight on the film’s music shows how the talented trio went to the Pacific islands and not only soaked themselves in the musical landscape of the region, but also found themselves inspired anew as musicians and artists.
Speaking of the music, there is a deleted song included in the Moana Blu-Ray that is such a terrific bonus, particularly if you’re a fan of Hamilton. “Deleted Song: Warrior Face” is introduced by Miranda and presented with the basic animation (as it never made it to the final cut). Several cast members of Hamilton do the singing, since the actors were never required to perform it in the film. Lucky for us!
A short featurette, “Island Fashion,” finds Neysa Bové divulging how it was of utmost importance for the animated costumes of the characters to be as spot on as possible. Sure, the film takes place over 1,000 years ago, but so much of Pacific Islander culture is passed down and therefore, the specifics of costuming the characters, had to be spot-in to fully respect all those that came before.
“Things You Didn’t Know About” is a fun featurette that is broken down into two parts. It first asks some interesting and entertaining questions of the cast in Ron, John, Auli’i & Dwayne. The second part does the same thing, but with the musical brain trust as Mark, Opetaia, & Lin-Manuel get their chance to have some fun.
Two short films find the light of day in the Moana Blu-ray, “Theatrical Short Film: Inner Workings” and “Gone Fishing.” The latter is a never-before-seen animated short featuring Johnson and Cravalho reprising their roles in a charming and hilarious little film where our demigod just wants to do a little fishing and find a wee bit of lunch. The former spotlights the filmmakers efforts to make Moana and takes us through a typical day making Moana.
Those looking for hidden connections to other Disney properties will want to check out Fishing for Easter Eggs, as Cravalho and Johnson serve as hosts for a quick look at a few of Moana’s hidden treasures.
Lastly, don’t miss two takes on the Oscar nominated track, “How Far I’ll Go.” First up is the music video and then a version of the song that is performed in languages from all around the world.
Content from our partners
ScreenPicks is a subsidiary of AllMediaNY.com