Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: In a realm known as Kumandra, a re-imagined Earth inhabited by an ancient civilization, a warrior named Raya is determined to find the last dragon.
Review: I enjoy Disney’s animated films as much as the next guy, but as many of them as there are (and BOY are there a lot!) it’s only a few I find worthy of revisiting time and time again. And their latest, Raya and The Last Dragon, will most definitely be going into my collection!
Blending several South Asian cultures together to create the magical and visually imaginative world of Kumandra, Disney once again proves (formulaic or not) they know exactly what is needed to make a thought-provoking, yet pleasurable film that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
The voice casting here is some of the best I’ve seen (and heard of course) out of Disney in a while. Maybe it’s because we been inundated with soulless remakes from the House that Mouse built, but I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I felt characters come alive like Raya and her mish-mash group of friends did.
While you may not recognise the voice of Kelly Marie Tran easily (she played Rose in the most recent Star Wars trilogy) as Raya, I’m certain a lot of people will quickly pick up on the comedic talent of Awkwafina (Jumanji: The Next Level/Crazy Rich Asians) as the beautifully-rendered Sisu, a dragon who once saved their world and who reappears and joins Raya on her adventure.
The film is also complemented by a whole slew of Asian actors from all over the world like Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong and Sandra Oh (just to name a few), all of whom bring heart and soul to their performances.
Raya and the Last Dragon, like all Disney movies, has a message at its core, but instead of the typical “you’re special no matter what,” Walt Disney Animation Studios took a page from Pixar’s book and dug a bit deeper to subtly address the divide that is plaguing America of late (to be fair, it’s always been there, but that’s a whole other topic). Touching on the importance of trusting others, forgiving and coming together to build a better world, not just for “your people” but for all people, it never felt heavy-handed, and I give them mucho points for that.
If there are any negatives, I guess I could point out the plot holes that are ignored to keep the story moving forward, or the fact it is very much the Disney formula, so at no point will you find yourself not knowing what comes next. But I can easily forgive these things because Raya and the Last Dragon is ultimately a visually stunning, well-crafted, top notch animated film that reminded me why I love going to the movies.
Sommer’s Score: 8.5 out of 10
For more of my thoughts on Raya and the Last Dragon you can check out my video review below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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