Whether the $30 fee on Disney+ is worth it will be up to you. However, in my personal opinion, it’s worth the cost. Raya And The Last Dragon is an action-packed film that wastes no time getting from start to finish. It manages to keep you invested in the story while also giving you enough time to enjoy the beauty of the world surrounding the main characters. Kelly Marie Tran gives a fantastic performance as Raya and was surrounded by an amazing cast that most likely wouldn’t have been performed better by anyone else. The movie has dark tones, so you may want to be cautious when showing this movie to young ones.
500 years after the war between dragons and dark spirits named Druun, humankind became divided and fought one another for land and power. When the Drunn return to take life from humankind, a young woman, Raya, and her pet/friend,Tuk Tuk, must find pieces of a dragon gem and the last dragon Sisu. Along the way, she encounters new friends, enemies, and unrelenting Druuns.
At first glance, the lesson on trust and forgiveness feels naive and unrealistic. Upon further inspection, the lesson on trust and forgiveness is shown more accurately than it is told. When talking about trust, the characters discuss being the one to take the first step so others can learn to be trusting as well. Realistically, when that happens, people can still get hurt. That becomes apparent through the consequences of the main characters’ actions. However, as the film progresses, Raya becomes more trusting and sometimes the consequences are small or severe. However, it’s Raya’s trust that helps her through the movie.
Disney’s animation continues to impress audiences, causing me to widen my eyes in excitement as the movie continues. The rays of sunshine that shine through a forest gave me hope even in the bleakest of situations. The little droplets of water that fell off of Raya’s conical hat made me excited for the fight that was to come. The animators of this film made sure every little detail was shown, from the way the leaves are blown in the wind to the way the water flows downstream. The animation is done well enough that everything looks realistic without having to wonder if it’s still animated or not.
Here’s the thing with fight scenes in Disney movies, or movies in general sometimes, they are often cut short or filled with talking throughout the entire fight. Raya And The Last Dragon doesn’t do that, instead, the fight sequences are another factor that keeps you invested in the movie and even helps further the plot. The styles of each person are unique to their tribe and the weapons they use. Hand-to-hand combat is fluid and easy to keep up with what’s happening in the fight.
When it comes to world-building, Raya And The Last Dragon does a fantastic job of creating a rich and vibrant world, inspired by South Asian cultures, in a short amount of time. Each tribe is different from the last and the history doesn’t feel exaggerated for a Disney film. My only real issue with the film is identifying the culture the tribes are based on. The tribes seem to be a blend of cultures, and identifying what they’re based on can get confusing. As someone who comes from a Thai family, I was excited to see a movie where I can learn a bit more about my culture. Instead, Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian cultures were more of the general inspiration of the tribes in the film instead of a representation. Which isn’t bad, but only slightly disappointing. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy what was there.
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