Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Movie Review: Raya and the Last Dragon

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun, good moral
Cons: Predictable
The Bottom Line:
Quest to save kingdom
Predictable but still good
Should entertain all

Collecting Gems with a Dragon

So many movies were delayed during 2020, understandably so, that I suspect we will soon be seeing a flood of movies coming our way.  The first of these for me was Raya and the Last Dragon.  I waited until it hit disc release instead of watching it on Disney+, and I enjoyed it.

The movie takes us to Kumandra, a land that once was united and flourished under the magic provided by dragons.  All that changed when the Druun attacked the region, and the dragons sacrificed themselves for the world.  With their magic gone, the land splintered, with only one small part of the dragon’s magic left in a magic gem.

Which brings us to Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran).  The Druun have returned, and the magic gem has been split.  Raya is on a quest to find a way to save the land, which includes finding Sisu (Awkwafina), the last dragon.  It soon becomes apparent that reuniting the gem is the only way to save the world from the Druun.  Can Raya find all the pieces and do that?

I’m going to leave off the plot teaser there.  Yes, it is pretty basic.  But I don’t want to spoil anything, and I’m afraid if I do more, I will.

This is one of those movies that is predictable.  It’s fairly easy to see where the film is going, and we just go along for the ride with Raya until we get there.  That’s not to say that the film wasn’t enjoyable.  I got caught up in the action at the various stops Raya makes along the way.  And Sisu is very funny.  Between the action and the laughs, I enjoyed the film.  I just wish it had included one twist I wasn’t expecting.

The moral of the movie is a little obvious.  In fact, it just manages to keep from crossing the line to preaching.  Yet, I loved it.  In these times, the message is especially important.  Even when we have differences, we can still find ways to work together.  Or at least we should try.

The voice cast is wonderful.  While there were a few names I was familiar with in the credits, most of them were unknown to me.  I think that actually helped me get lost in the story.  There were some moments early on that felt a little forced, which might have been the writing or the voice acting, but it didn’t last for long.

Likewise, the animation is wonderful.  There are a few beautiful shots that help us fall in love with this fantasy world.

It’s rare that a Disney animated movie has no songs, but that’s the case here.  While I usually enjoy the songs, I don’t think this film needed them.  It worked well without them.

And, I definitely did get drawn into the story.  The ending brought tears to my eyes.

Obviously, I have some nitpicks with Raya and the Last Dragon, but it is a Disney movie that kids of all ages will still enjoy since it is overall fun.

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