Moana

Disney's next princess is getting ready to take her bow. The Mouse House presented some new footage of Moana at San Diego Comic-Con, including the first three minutes of the film. We get to see the setup of the world of Moana, as well as a bit more of the film's major characters. Moana, and the demigod Maui.

2016 has been a banner year for Disney, both Zootopia and Finding Dory have been massive hits. Now, Disney is looking to three-peat with their upcoming holiday release, Moana. The San Diego Comic-Con panel focused on the film got us a lot of brand new information, but the most interesting was the clip shown to the audience of the film's actual first three minutes. While the animation and effects were not finished, it did have the final vocal performances, and most of the animation still looked pretty solid, so while there may be some changes between now and release, we're guessing the movie will open pretty much as it was seen here.

Moana opens with 2D animation that resembles the art style seen in pacific islander tattoos, like those seen on the character of Maui. A female voiceover begins to tell us of the creation of the world and the creation of the first island in Oceania. This "Mother Island," Te Fiki (we hope we're spelling that right), is what created life in the world. However, the heart of Te Fiki was desired by some, in order to gain the power of creation. Then, a demigod comes along to try and take the heart of Te Fiki. This is Maui, the character voiced by Dwayne Johnson. He appears, sailing in an outrigger boat, but then transforms into a bird and flies to the island. It's at this point that the animation changes from the tattoo art style to traditional computer animation. Maui arrives at the island, transforming into other creatures in order to navigate the jungle before coming upon the heart of the island, in the form of a small jewel. Maui uses his magic fish hook to pry the jewel free. However, doing this gives birth to a darkness, a cloud which begins to envelop the island and chases Maui away and back to his boat. His troubles are not over, however, as he's then approached from the other side by a demon who wants the heart for himself. The two begin to clash but Maui is defeated and his magical fish hook, and the heart of Te Fiki, are lost to the ocean. As the clip ends, we see that an old woman is telling this story to a group of toddlers, and one them, Moana, is absolutely mesmerized by the story.

We were then given a brief synopsis of what follows this. Moana, now older, discovers that she comes from a long line of navigators, which explains the pull to the sea that she's been feeling. She goes in search for Maui, in order to return the heart of Te Fiki and set order right again. Following this, we were shown a brief sequence where Moana and Maui meet each other for the first time. It's here where we see why The Rock was chosen to bring Maui to life. The character is very full of himself. He automatically assumes that Moana is excited to meet him, going as far as to autograph a boat paddle with the beak of a chicken. He is absolutely taken aback when he realizes that Moana is thoroughly unimpressed by him.

All in all, in these scenes, we saw some beautiful animation and some solid comedy. The only thing missing is the music. We haven't heard much of it beyond what has been in the trailer, but with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'i, and Mark Mancina involved, we're only expecting the best. Moana will be in theaters this Thanksgiving.

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