Directed by Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada
Starring the voices of Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, and Sandra Oh
I’m still a sucker for Disney animation, and I’m still feeling sad that I can’t get out to the theatres. So when I saw that they’re next animated epic, Raya and the Last Dragon, would be the next to follow the premiere access model on Disney+, I figured it would be worth a shot. The trailers were looking pretty cute, and it starred Kelly Marie Tran, whom I still adored from The Last Jedi. So the question is, it worth your $35 to watch at home?
The mystical land of Kumandra is besieged by evil beings known as the Druun. The Druun are finally driven off when all the dragons put their magical energy into a magical gem that they use against the Druun. And because people are terrible, Kumandra instantly goes to war with itself, and is divided into five kingdoms that fight over the gem. Chief Benja, the leader of the kingdom of Heart and the kingdom that posseses the gem, tries to broker a peace. But things go terribly wrong, the gem is shattered with each kingdom claiming a piece, and the Druun are free to attack once again. Benja’s daughter Raya takes it upon herself to find the last dragon and reunite the pieces of the gem and Kumandra. Now, alongside Sisu the last dragon, Raya is off on a dangerous quest. Will she succeed in reassembling the gem? Will the people of Kumandra learn to trust each other once again?
What I Liked
If you’re still grouchy that Mushu was left out of the live-action Mulan, you will get over it once you see Sisu. Awkwafina’s Sisu is one of the funniest Disney sidekicks in a long time. But she’s not just all about the comedy. She knows when to tone it down and give our heroine the words of encouragement she needs. In fact all of the voice acting is top-notch. As expected, Tran is a phenomenal Raya, knowing when to be vulnerable and when to be a quippy action hero. Gemma Chan is equally excellent as Raya’s nemesis Namaari. And it’s Disney, so the animation is, as expected, just mindblowing.
What I Didn’t Like
The plot is rather episodic as it follows a pretty set structure: go to a kingdom, find the gem, move on to the next one. But I really don’t mind as each “episode” has enough flavour to be different.
Raya and the Last Dragon is equal parts adventure tale and heist film, all in an amazing and wonderful world. I really enjoyed it.