REVIEW: ‘Raya and the Last Dragon


Raya and the Last Dragon

I know many before me have said this about every Disney movie that’s come out in the past four years, but I’m going to say it anyway: Disney does not want to stop showing off their water animation every chance they get. And this film is, of course, no exception!

Disney’s latest animated movie “Raya and the Last Dragon,” hit theatres and Disney+ on March 5. This story introduces audiences to a new warrior princess, Raya, who sets off on a quest to find the last dragon in the mystical Southeast Asian inspired land of Kumandra, in the hopes of fixing the wrongdoings of those who have left her home and the entire land devastated.

This is by far the best Disney original, (besides “Ralph Breaks the Internet”), since 2016’s “Moana.” Bear in mind, this is coming from a guy who has grown weary of the age of live-action remakes.

To those of you who adore those remakes, I make no apologies, as I’m not a big fan, especially of the ones from the past two to three years. I have been saying for a long time that I miss the originality and the fresh stories that Disney animated films brought to the table, (albeit somewhat predictable).  Raya was exactly what I was wanting – this is a wonderful movie.

The animation in this film is, hands down, the best Disney has ever given us. There were times when my jaw hit the floor at the mesmerizingly beautiful animation. Adding to the striking display were all the little details, like strands of hair flowing through the breeze, rubble falling through the air with dust closely following, and the water. Well, you all already know how I feel about that (Seriously, how do they do that?).

The voice cast is really strong as well. Kelly Marie Tran, (whom you might know as Rose Tico from “Star Wars Episode VIII: the Last Jedi”), voices Raya, and Awkwafina voices Sisu the Dragon. Each actress does an incredible job, and their work should not be overlooked here. I also want to add how happy I am for Tran. She has been unfairly treated by a lot of people in the Star Wars community, and it was awesome to see her rise up out of the absurd and unwarranted hatred. I can’t wait to see more of her in the future. She was excellent in this film.

The movie does, however, have that one thing I mentioned earlier that seems unavoidable when watching a Disney movie: predictability. At this point it should be a surprise to no one that you can basically tell where a Disney movie’s going.

Likewise, where this film is going will not come off as a shock, and while it’s told very differently and there are a lot of surprises, it does fall victim to being predictable.

It’s a bit of a reach to expect anything but a carefully calculated happy ending when it comes to a Disney movie (and truth be told, I probably wouldn’t want it any other way), but it’s just something to consider.

Another thing, (and this is basically a subjective nitpick) is that sometimes the humor didn’t always work for me, and some jokes were a little cringey at times. Nevertheless, for the majority of the film I wore a big grin and laughed … a lot … just not at everything. But hey, that’s subjectivity for ya, folks!

Overall, this movie was a joy to watch. It was everything that I, as a Disney fan (who has been begging for something original out of them again), wanted for quite some time. It’s now playing in theaters as well as streaming with premier access for $30 on Disney+.

If you are a fan of Disney like I am, I highly recommend this one. This is Disney’s best original in years, and it’s worth every bit of your time!

Jury declares: A-