Moana (2016)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 12/30/16
Cast: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson

Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) is the headstrong daughter of a South Pacific island chief. She is drawn to the ocean, but the laws of the island forbid anyone to go beyond the reef. However, when the island starts to die, it becomes apparent that the islanders must travel beyond the reef in order to survive, and Moana strikes out on her own to fulfill an ancient prophecy. In order to save the island, she must find a demi-god named Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and have him return the heart of Te Fiti, which was stolen ages ago.

The film follows the standard Disney Princess formula and the music is very reminiscent of "The Little Mermaid" (1989). The animation is exquisite and the performances are delightful. Auli'i Cravalho does a fantastic job as Moana and really brings her to life. The supporting characters aren't particularly interesting and Maui is downright annoying, but Moana's charm and determination rise above any deficiencies the film might have. A top notch production all around.