‘MOANA’ WARMS AUDIENCES’ HEARTS; MAY THAW ‘FROZEN’ POPULARITY WITH YOUNG VIEWERS

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Autumn Okuszka , Staff Reporter

 

Around the holiday season every year, Disney always has a new movie to showcase. Three years ago it was “Frozen” a story about a snow queen and her sister, and since then it has not lost its popularity as well as being a fan favorite. This year it was “Moana” a story about a soon to be chief of a Polynesian tribe who travels across the ocean to find a demi-god named Maui who stole a relic from an earthly goddess, which could potentially harm her home and world. It’s a mouthful, I know. But it’s understandable and easy to follow on screen. It also includes musical numbers like ‘Frozen,’ something the movie only recently revived in Disney. Although being a cartoon movie meant for children, I feel ‘Moana’ is perfect for all ages. I personally believe ‘Moana’ is better than ‘Frozen.’

At most times, it’s rare to find a cartoon that could make both a child and parent cry. But ‘Moana’ shares one moment that could make someone of any age shed a tear. “Moana carried a theme as well as including an emotional factor, which made me like it so much,” says Ashley Shepich ‘18. Moana grew up interested in water, something not common among her people who are afraid to travel away from their home. The only other person who seems to share her interest is her grandmother, who tells her to follow her heart despite her father telling her otherwise. Her grandmother also hopes to be reincarnated into a stingray after death to eternally be with the water. As Moana grows older her yearning to go into the ocean strengthens even as she is getting closer to becoming leader of her tribe. When her village starts to lose their main food sources due to demi-god Maui stealing the relic from the goddess ages before, she finds her motivation to trust her heart and follow the sea. Although she failed the first time, she is prompted to try again after the death of her grandmother. While returning to the sea with no turning back, she sneaks a peek to see her grandmother’s spirit in the form of a stingray, swimming near her. Touching moments like these are the reason why Disney is loved by all ages and make movies like these fan favorites.

Nowadays it’s rare for a Disney movie to produce a musical movie and have songs come out of it to be named classic. ‘Frozen’ had this luck with its chart-topper ‘Let It Go,’ sung by Idina Menzel who played ice princess Elsa. ‘Moana’ shows the same promise. ‘How Far I’ll Go,’ sung by Auli’i Cravalho who played Moana, is being called the ‘Let It Go’ of this movie. “I loved How Far I’ll Go because she was realizing who she was and not to follow tradition,” Ashley says. But unlike ‘Frozen,’ ‘Moana’ has two other songs that are gaining quick recognition and popularity. They are ‘You’re Welcome,’ which is sung by Dwayne Johnson who played Maui and ‘Shiny,’ which is sung by Jemaine Clement who played Tamatoa, a literal shiny crab. ‘You’re Welcome’ is already a catchy song on its own but the fact that it’s sung by Dwayne Johnson adds to its popularity. After ‘Moana’s’ release in theaters it has debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100. ‘Shiny’ hasn’t had the same effect just yet, but it is liked by all so far. Tamatoa is a villain in the film, and the song is said to stand among the ranks of other Disney villain anthems for the first time in a long time. What also helps to make these songs an instant hit? Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of ‘Hamilton,’ wrote them. You can even hear former George Washington Christopher Jackson and former Elizabeth Hamilton Philippa Soo in various songs throughout the film. Bringing in someone as famous as Miranda along with a few familiar voices makes the music and film loved and memorable.

Pocahontas, Mulan, Elsa, Anna — when people hear these names, specifically women, they think of strong princesses who do great things without needing a prince to help them. Many now believe Moana stands with these ranks, even more so than in ‘Frozen.’ Anna does help her sister feel comfortable with her power and end the eternal winter, but not without Kristoff’s help. Unlike ‘Frozen’ Moana saves her village all on her own, with very little help from Maui. “I love how they don’t give her a relationship. This princess actually has a goal that doesn’t involve falling in love,” says Ashley. Moana is now becoming a role model for younger girls like Pocahontas, Mulan, Elsa, and Anna.

If you liked ‘Frozen,’ I believe you’ll like ‘Moana,’ maybe even better than ‘Frozen.’ You can now watch it in any movie theater, DVD release is estimated for March of 2017. The soundtrack is now available on ITunes as well as Amazon and Spotify.