It was back in April that Dwayne Johnson revealed that he would be joining the amazing world of Walt Disney Animated movies. It was officially confirmed that the A-lister would be joining the cast of Moana, playing the role of Maui… but what wasn’t said at the time was exactly what we could expect from the character. Now, thanks to the big animation presentation at the D23 Expo this afternoon, however, we now have a much better idea of what we will be seeing from the actor in the big screen adventure.
Moana was one of the key titles featured on the slate of today’s big event in the Anaheim Convention Center - and while not much was available from the movie in terms of footage, two clips were shown to the 7,000-plus crowd that had shown up to attend. The first was a brief introduction to Dwayne Johnson’s Maui – and it was a pretty great preview.
The scene shown began with what appeared to be Samoan artwork, featuring narration from Dwayne Johnson. As the artwork begins to move, the legend of Maui is explained, as it’s said that he is a demi-god who used his great hook to both pull down the sun, and pull up great islands from the bottom of the ocean. As this explanation goes on, however, the camera pulls out, and we see that what we’ve been looking at is moving tattoos that Maui has all over his chest detailing his many, many adventures. He is dark skinned, has a thatch of curly brown hair, and is equipped with a giant hook that is almost as tall as he is - but he wields the tool with tremendous skill, spinning and throwing it around like a weightless baton. It’s clear that he’s very proud of his abilities, and ends with a big finish – but this is shown to be completely lost on both Moana and her pet pig Pua, who are revealed as sitting right across from Maui, and sit in stunned silence.
Along with directors John Musker and Ron Clements, as well as producer Osnat Shurer, Dwayne Johnson was actually on the stage at the D23 Expo this afternoon, and also did his part to explain some of the details about Maui and how we can expect him to grow over the course of Moana’s story. According to the actor and the filmmakers, Maui was born a human, but was raised by gods – which means that he is a man who finds himself trapped between two worlds. He has tremendous abilities, and is actually able to shapeshift in addition to using his magical hook – but is still a troubled character. As it turns out, Moana will play a very important role in his life, as she will be the one who helps him find his true self.
Moana doesn’t have a release date just yet, but the film is currently in production at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and is on pace to come out some time next year. Stay tuned for not only more details about the feature, but also more of our coverage from D23!
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.