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What to know: The ocean is calling in this stunning animation with wonderful music by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Recommended age 7-18
113 minutes
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I like this film because it shows how brave girls can be. Moana is the daughter of the Chief of a Village in the Pacific Island who's destined to become the leader of her tribe. At a young age, Moana was taught by her Grandma to love the sea and she told her stories about how the islands were made. Moana's father always told her to not go beyond the lagoon in the ocean since it's dangerous. He was concerned about losing her.

Against her father's permission, Moana has to leave her Village and embarks in an ocean adventure to save her people. The demigod Maui took the heart of the maker of all lands Te Ka and Moana has to find him to give back the heart to Te Ka, otherwise their land is going to be ruined.

Moana is produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios in a unique CG animation style that looks very realistic, like virtual reality. The voice over actors are all quite wonderful, especially Rachel House. I love how she portrays her character Grandma Tala because her voice delivers such grant emotion. Also, Dwayne Johnson portrays his character Maui very well with a very adventurous tone. I like how they animate Te Ka with extraordinary animation effects. The writers really make this story about an emotional heroine quite a fantastic story. I got emotional when I saw this movie because of the relationship between Moana and her grandma. I commend the directors, John Musker and Ron Clements for delivering such a great film with outstanding visuals and sound.

My favorite characters are Grandma Tala because she has so much faith in Moana. She doesn't mind that people call her crazy for loving the sea. I also love Moana because she is very brave and courageous. I like how, even though her father is afraid for her she still goes to fight for her people.

The message of this movie is to believe in yourself, follow your heart and fight challenges. Moana believes in herself when only one other person does. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars because of its inspiring message. I recommend it to ages 6 to 18. This is the perfect movie to see over the holidays with family and friends. You can find this movie at your local movie theater on November 23!

Reviewed by Carla P. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

With its beautiful soundtrack, diverse cultural representation, and unique plot, Moana is a movie that is fun for all. The enchanting adventure incorporates a lot of mythology and folktales. The film is about an adventurous teenage girl named Moana who has been attracted to the sea since birth and sails the ocean in a quest to save her people. Along the way she finds the mighty demi-god named Maui who has caused her people's misfortune. In hopes of saving her people, she brings Maui along on her journey to fight the enormous monsters and obstacles, with his guidance. On their journey, Moana not only discovers Maui's true identity, but also her own.

The big thing that stands out in this film is that it is one of the very few Disney movies that does not revolve around a love story or romance of any type. On top of that, the film truly draws in the audience's emotions without a death or depressing factor. The film is unique in that it goes beyond the typical Disney formula.

The delightful and memorable soundtrack by the creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, stayed with me days after the screening, which is proof that it is quality music. After only seeing the film once I had memorized a great portion of the lyrics. The animation, without a doubt, is phenomenal. The detail in the hair and water is unbelievable. The 3D aspect is also memorable particularly in one scene where I flinched when an object seemingly flew out of the screen and towards the audience.

When watching films about a quest or journey of survival that revolve around one or two people and the game plan is made apparent, it is easy for the plot to drag or and feel very long, or choppy and flooded with random scenes of unfortunate obstacles. In films like those, it is especially important to make the plot flow well and be well paced so the audience feels that they are alongside the protagonist. This film executes the survival style plot in a fun and feel-good manner. Also, it is rich in culture and extends Disney's diversity, which is wonderful. It casts very talented voice actors including the well-known Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson as Maui and Auli'i Cravalho as Moana. Johnson was fantastic. His voice is quite distinctive but, because of his spirited voice work and accent, I did not realize it was his until the credits. Auli'i Cravalho makes her first appearance as a voice actress in this film and is absolutely amazing.

Given the brilliant animation, impactful soundtrack, strategic plot and spirited voice work, this film is one you need to see. I recommend it for people ages 7 to 18 and give it four out of five stars. It is in theaters now so, go check it out.

Reviewed by Harmony M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Moana is another excellent Disney film full of fun songs, lovable characters and detailed, colorful animation. I left the theater in a happy mood and replayed the songs in my head for days after.

This film follows a Polynesian girl named Moana (Auli'i Cravalho ) about to become the chief of her island. She is chosen by the ocean to go on a journey to retrieve Maui, an egotistical demigod with a magical fishhook. He must help her locate the heart of Te Fiti, a relic that keeps the islands in balance. Now, with the help of a not-so-bright rooster, she must complete her task and save her island from destruction.

My favorite character in this film is Maui (Dwayne Johnson). He is hilarious, a little arrogant at first, but grew on me as the film developed. Maui also has mystical tattoos that jump around his skin and are very fun to watch. Dwayne Johnson is spot on, perfectly portraying all sides of the character and even a good singer. Auli'i Cravalho is a standout in this film, giving Moana a real personality and really excels in her first voice acting role.

In every Disney movie, there are fun sidekicks for comic relief and this film is no different. Pua is Moana's adorable pig companion and Hei Hei is a foolish chicken that follows her onto her boat. They are actually representations of Disney legends, Ron Clements and John Musker, the directors of this film.

The animation in this film is visually groundbreaking. Everything from Moana's hair to the ocean is detailed and creative. The songs in this film are memorable and fun. My favorite song is You're Welcome, a catchy tune that mixes Dwayne Johnson's vocals with Lin-Manuel Miranda's inventive lyrics.

The movie plays with Disney's formula by not giving Moana a love interest. Instead the film focuses on Moana's personal journey to becoming her own hero.

Moana is preceded by a smart short film called Inner Workings about the relationship between the heart and the brain that is, in itself, worth the ticket price.

I recommend this film to ages 6 to 12 as there are some perilous, scary moments and mildly crude humor. Moana left me with a smile and catchy songs that stuck in my head. I give Moana 4 out of 5 stars. If you like the music of Lin-Manuel Miranda or a good Disney movie, you'll enjoy this great film.

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

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The main character will be Moana Waialiki, a sea voyaging enthusiast, and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her family needs her help, she sets off on an epic journey. The film will also include demi-gods and spirits taken from real mythology.
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