What is the story about?
Raya, a young precocious girl belonging to the land of Heart, is tasked with protecting the gem of the magical dragon Sisu. However, it gets stolen from her by Namaari, the daughter of a rival land. Raya then sets out on a journey to retrieve the stone with the help of Sisu, but can she let go of past transgressions and learn to forgive in order to unite the lost kingdoms of Kumandra again?
Perhaps it’s the fact that the US just closed a historic election, and is trying to set up a government that reflects the diversity of its population. Or perhaps it’s just global headlines from each day. Whatever be the case, Disney’s latest animated film feels timely and timeless at the same time. Raya and the Last Dragon is not the first animated film from the Mouse House featuring an Asian protagonist, but this film scores on account of the care it places on getting its representation right. Raya’s attempts to build bridges with the other kingdoms mirrors the message of hope and unity that has been the refrain of the US elections. This does not mean, however, that this is a political film. In fact, the story of this film unfolds like something out of a folktale. The animation is really fluid and dazzles you from the first frame, but it’s the spectacular voice performances that take this film up a notch. After Netflix’s Over The Moon, this feels like Disney’s rejoinder to its rival as far as creating a family-friendly Asian animation film is concerned. People of all ages will be able to enjoy and appreciate this film. You won’t regret it.
Kelly Marie Tran anchors the film, as she voices the simmering rage and boundless hope of the young Raya. Awkwafina brings the house down as the gifted dragon Sisu. Daniel Dae-Kim does well as Raya’s father, while Gemma Chan’s Namaari is alright too. The rest of the voice cast do a decent job.
Music & Other Departments
The animation and score are superb.
There are several notable sequences, but the most ridiculous—and fun—sequence involves insects that can fart.
None that I could think of.
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?
Yes. This is a joyous film talking about hope and unity, and we could all do with more of this messaging right now.