Moana Screened For Critics, Here’s What They Are Saying

Disney's newest animated musical is only a couple weeks away from bowing for general audiences, but many critics have already seen it. What does the movie's first audience think of Moana? Well, the cheers for Disney's newest princess appear to be nearly universal. Disney has another hit on their hands, the only real question is, will the tropical princess become as big a star as the last one who lived in the ice castle?

Contemporary Disney at its finest - a vibrantly rendered adventure that combines state-of-the-art CG animation with traditional storytelling and colorful characters, all enlivened by a terrific voice cast.

The Hollywood Reporter starts the praise parade with a glowing review that doesn't so much as imply that there's anything at all wrong with Moana. The animation, the story, and the voice cast are all given high praise. Scott Mendelson from Forbes is equally supporting of Moana. He praises the film for actually making some improvements over what the studio did with Frozen. Both in the case of the music, which contains some elements the previous musical was missing, and in terms of animation. _Moana's _ characters are much more realistic when it comes to how their bodies were animated. If there's anything wrong with it, it may be that the film is too similar to previous Disney adventures.

Moana sails through somewhat familiar waters, to the point where it sometimes resembles a mix-and-match of prior Disney animated classics. But it justifies its well-tread path via knowing humor

Entertainment Weekly also goes all in on the story of a Polynesian princess who goes in search of a demi-god to help her save her home.

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There's one way in which Moana is very different from Disney's previous engagements, however. Both Entertainment Weekly and Variety point out one massive change with traditional Disney heroines. In Variety's words...

Moana keeps with the tradition that made Disney the leader in animated fairy and folk tales, and yet, showing a thoroughly modern touch, it's the first to do so without so much as suggesting a love interest.

Directing team Ron Clements and John Musker talked about the lack of a love interest when we saw them at San Diego Comic-Con. The statement elicited a cheer from the assembled crowd at the time. Fans were clearly excited to see this new take on the Disney princess.

Of course, while reviews are generally positive. They're not perfect. Indiewire doesn't think that The Rock's self-aware humor lands as well as others do.

Unfortunately, Maui becomes the movie's biggest setback for other reasons. The main source of comic relief, his arrival signals an abrupt shift in tone from the vibrant storybook qualities of the first act to a cheekier, winking self-awareness.

Meanwhile, The Guardian says that while the setting of Moana may be something new, the story told there is not.

[T]his is a Disney princess movie, which means it has certain royal obligations to fulfil: a role-model heroine, a magical quest, a wholesome message, a merchandisable animal sidekick (in this case, a supremely dumb chicken) and musical numbers that will pass the playground test.

It would seem that in the grand scheme of things Moana is set to be another hit from Disney. Following a couple of billion dollar success stories with Frozen and Zootopia, it remains to be seen if the new princess will enjoy quite that level of success. We'll find out when Moana hits theaters November 23.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.