a little Moana (2016) Review

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Growing up I was always enamoured by the aesthetic and art of Lilo and Stitch, there was never a Disney film quite like it. Lilo and Nani stood out as characters with their unique beauty and personalities. Admittedly a flaw of Disney female characters is they do tend to conform to western beauty standards of thin, hourglass figure with skin as pale as winter snow (no offence, Snow White!). The lovely Nani in Lilo and Stitch was definitely a good turn in direction for female character design and one of the first things I fell in love with in Moana was the character design because it brought me back to how much I adored Lilo and Stitch.

The list of what I loved in Moana is exceedingly long, and I imagine if I was to see it again I would find more and more little details that I absolutely adore. Moana’s character design for a start was gorgeous and she has definitely hit top spot of favourite female characters. She has so much personality and curiosity. Right from the start when ‘crazy grandma’ – Grandma Tala is telling the young babies of Motunui the story of demigod Maui and the heart of Te Fiti, you instantly spot Moana’s unique charm as she is the adorable baby sat at the front taking everything in with intrigue. The beginning sequence of baby Moana wandering off on her own and looking after the little turtle back to shore made me fall in love with her as a character. Boy, do I want a kid with that kind of adoration for her environment. I was literally squee-ing into my hands watching that whole sequence as not only was it adorable, but it made me excited to see the rest of the story. The art also put it right out there, that you could be damn sure the rest of the film was going to be stunning.

The soundtrack was an absolute dream, to be blunt. Every time a musical piece started up, a smile instantly lit up on my face. ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen might as well be forgotten and dead because ‘How Far I’ll Go’ is absolutely beautiful. I’m going to be listening it to weeks at this rate, so if you ever see me on public transport trying my best not to dramatically dance? I’m probably listening to that. Maui’s solo ‘You’re Welcome’ also brought a grin to my face, which leads me to one of the other good points of this film. I absolutely loved the Rock playing Maui, he played the character so well and really brought Maui to life. As well as Auli’i Cravalho playing Moana. It really surprised me to learn that Auli’i hasn’t been in anything else and didn’t even think of auditioning for her? I’m so glad she did because I couldn’t imagine Moana with any other voice!

The other characters stood out as well, despite Moana and Maui being the mains. I loved Moana’s grandma and thought her little parts in songs were really sweet, they even gave me goosebumps. The mascot characters were hilarious too and didn’t get old, although I would of loved to have seen more of Moana’s pet pig Pua.

Would I recommend Moana for all ages? Of course! Maybe I am biased because of my eternal love for Disney musical films and awesome female characters but I think Moana is my favourite film for 2016. It has such a good message that you should follow your dreams but not forget your roots or where you come from. I would definitely take my nieces to see it because I think they would equally fall in love with Moana and Maui. There are some parts in the underwater world thing, when Moana and Maui seek out Maui’s hook, where the ‘evil creatures’ seem quite spooky because of the ‘bioluminescence’ style colouring but aside from that the film is so amazing for both children humour and adult humour alike.

If you’re looking for a lovely film to see this weekend with your partner, family, friends or even just taking yourself to see a film, I definitely recommend Moana for a heart-warming, inspiring tale with humour and an amazing soundtrack!

Have you seen it already?

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#WheresRey

This Saturday I would have seen the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3 times. I am absolutely in love with the film – from it’s stunning cinematography to it’s amazing cast. When watching it I fell in love and grew greatly attached to the new 3 heroes. Especially Daisy Ridley’s character Rey. Rey is a scavenger who lives alone on the wasteland planet of Jakku, trying to get by and survive until whoever left her returns. She is an amazingly strong character which is perceived in her first few minutes on camera. A beautiful woman who’s appearance is very practical and in no way sexualised or overdone, which as a female audience member I really adored. Ridley’s natural face and scraped back hair left me in awe of her and has recently given me a lot more inspiration to try and get used to my own natural beauty.

(Warning: Spoilers as we go along) As the film progresses Rey is soon accompanied by reluctant hero Finn and small, cutesy droid BB-8. They embark on the risky adventure to get BB-8 back to the resistance headquarters before the First Order can get their hands on the information BB-8 stores. Rey’s importance and talents become very much clear when she steps into the Millennium Falcon. Her pilot skills come naturally and you can see the spark in Han Solo’s eyes when he spots the similarities between him and her. One of my favourite parts is when Han offers her a job with him and Chewbacca and she respectfully turns it down because she wants to return to Jakku. Han turns around and goes “It’s a shame, Chewie kind of likes you.” That part warmed my heart. When the team visit one thousand year old Maz Kanata – Rey comes across a very familiar weapon and when touched relives a lot of thunderous flashbacks. Maz confronts Rey and tells her that it once belonged to Luke Skywalker’s father, then Luke himself and now it calls to Rey. It takes a bit of the film for Rey to come to terms with her new powers and I for one, absolutely adored seeing her use jedi powers. Admittedly when I first saw teasers of The Force Awakens, I believed Finn would be the new jedi, but it makes me incredibly proud that the female lead became the jedi. Daisy Ridley plays Rey’s fear and anxiety of using the force so incredibly well and they definitely chose the perfect actress for Rey.

So on that point, as an avid lover of The Force Awakens and an audience member/consumer who looks up to Daisy Ridley’s character as almost an idol character I have to ask companies such as Disney and Hasbro – where is Rey?

Me and the boyfriend, Will, actually have seen that second set in our local Disney Store and we were both surprised at the fact the Disney set includes an unnamed Stormtrooper and First Order pilot – yet the main character Rey isn’t in there?! We discussed it could be due to trying to keep an equal ratio of hero characters to villains but even then – surely even Captain Phasma would be a more relevant villain character than an unnamed stormtrooper? Let’s just admit to the sexism here. Disney really didn’t want to put a female character in this set.

This isn’t the first time Disney’s messed up with what characters they put in their sets. When Age of Ultron came out, I believe Disney or a company released a set that included Black Widow’s motorbike she rides in the chase scene, however instead of making a Black Widow figurine – they replaced her with Captain America, who actually does not even ride the motorbike in that scene. What gives toy companies?!

As a consumer, in the future I will be buying a hell of a lot of Rey merchandise. If companies are convinced female characters will not sell, I think the audience should prove them wrong. These toys are not gendered and if you are purchasing Star Wars merchandise for a young boy – don’t be put off by Rey being included. Buy your son the badass, inspiring female scavenger. Don’t let these companies believe that Rey, Gamora, Black Widow or any female character won’t sell. Please tweet to Disney and Hasbro and tell them that their choices of not including Rey is completely sexist and as a consumer you will not stand for it.

The hashtag being used on twitter is #WheresRey

Thanks for reading,

Helena x