Once again, Disney proves why they are leagues ahead of everyone when it comes to their films. Featuring breathtaking visuals, stellar voice-acting and a message that will resonate with both children and adults about the power of kindness and coming together. Raya and the Last Dragon is yet another classic that many, including me, will be watching for many years to come.
Taking place on a re-imagined earth, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived in harmony together. But one day, that peaceful life is interrupted by sinister monsters known as Druun. To save every human being, the dragons pay the ultimate price by sacrificing themselves in order to save it. Fast-forward 500 years later, the Druun have returned and our hero Raya ventures out to find the last dragon and eliminate the Druun once and for all.
The film opens with an epic story about the world known as Kumandara, which is divided into 5 tribes, cleverly named after the different parts of a dragon; Fang, Heart, Spine, Talon, and Tail. I couldn’t help but notice the writers doing their best impression of both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, where the Druun would simply wash over you and turn you into stone. It’s not exactly the black dust, but you get the idea. From the moment the film began, I became transfixed by this mythical world and suddenly forgot where I was. I appreciated how the 5 tribes in the film all had distinct personalities. This made every new character that we meet along the way that much more special and memorable to me. It was like staring into a mirror because despite Kumandara being make-believe, the parallels with our world were apparent and necessary, especially when it came to the message the film tried to convey.
A typical Disney movie that isn’t too typical
When you have seen as many Disney films as I have, it’s hard not to predict exactly what is going to happen and with Raya and the Dragon, there will be a lot of things that you see coming. However, I am proud to say that the film managed to surprise me and even make my jaw drop. So, I want to give a little round of applause to the filmmakers for actually making me say “OH” louder than I expected to. Another thing that may shock you is despite looking like a typical Disney movie where we expect our characters to break out into song, nobody ever sings in this film. It felt more refreshing and we get to embrace the wonderful score composed by the great James Newton Howard.
I was so happy to hear Kelly Marie Tran, who is best known for playing Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker, voicing the latest addition to the Disney squad of lovable and memorable characters. The reason this made me happy is because she faced some harsh criticism from die-hard Star Wars fans that caused her to flee social media for a while and it took a toll on her mental health. This is the redemption that she needed and deserves because she is fabulous as Raya. Another wonderful gift this film gives us is Awkwafina doing sensational work voicing Sisu, the last dragon on earth. Her voice pairs perfectly well with her character and she comes off as charming, funny, humble and sweet. This takes nothing away from the rest of the wonderful voice work from the likes of Gemma Chan, Benedict Wong, Daniel Dae Kim, and Sandra Oh to name a few.
Never disappointed with Disney
The imagination, as usual with Disney, is a feast for the senses. It truly adds to the depth of the world we thankfully get to explore. From the vibrant colours, breathtaking landscapes, and flawless character design, this is what we come to expect from Disney, yet, it somehow always exceeds my expectations. The action sequences in this film are something to be admired. They were always exciting and I managed to feel a sense of danger whenever we were treated to our heroes being put in mortal danger.
My love of Disney started when I was a child and I have grown to love it more over the years. The reason why Disney means everything to me is they always manage to create compelling characters you never forget and films that you want to watch over and over for many years to come because they make you feel so good. Raya and the Last Dragon is another classic that despite it’s familiar motions with the story, it’s a journey well worth taking for families, children of all ages, and adults hoping to excite their inner child. With a message that is truly relevant to what is going on right now in our world, films like this remind us that no matter what, we could change our world for the better. If cinemas are open and you’re feeling comfortable enough to go, please see this on the big screen. If not, pay the Disney+ premium and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
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