2016 Certificate: pg

Synopsis

When her Polynesian island paradise comes under threat, plucky teenager Moana (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) ignores her village elder father's wishes and sets sail beyond the reef in search of pumped-up demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). He holds the key to saving her people... but first she's got to win him over and fight off the attentions of a kleptomaniac crab and a fiery lava giant. Glorious visuals and a whipsmart script ensure this Disney delight is nothing to moan-a bout.

Directors

  • Ron Clements

  • John Musker

Cast

  • Dwayne Johnson

  • Auli'i Cravalho

  • Alan Tudyk

  • Jemaine Clement

  • Nicole Scherzinger

  • Temuera Morrison

Review

The blue-blooded lineage of Disney princesses gets a right royal addition in the form of Moana, a spirited Polynesian teenager who sets sail on a seaborne quest to save her people.

Strictly speaking Moana (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) isn't a House of Mouse aristo in the traditional sense (she's the daughter of an authoritarian village elder) but as her eventual ally, the ripped demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson, excellent), ascertains, "If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you're a princess."

It's this loose, self-mocking approach to the Disney princess bloodline that makes Moana such a rip-roaring success. That, and sublime watery visuals that are so stunningly authentic you'll be booking the next flight to the South Pacific.

When Moana's idyllic island community finds itself the victim of an ancient curse, she must defy her authoritarian dad and sail off in search of Maui who can help her confront the evil, fiery giant Te Ka and secure the safety of her people.

Departing from formula, there's no romance between Moana and Maui but a grudgingly- earned respect as the slovenly half-deity - enlivened by splendid animated tattoos and a misfiring ability to shape-shift - learns to respect the fiery adventuress with whom he's obliged to share an ocean-going canoe.

There's some superb adversaries, including a piratical crew of buccaneering coconuts and a light-pincered crab (voiced by Conchords singer Jemaine Clement) as well as Moana's nemesis Te Ka and her fiery temper.

Add a couple of genuinely memorable songs (courtesy of Broadway director and star Lin Manuel "Hamilton" Miranda) and you have a nautical yarn that leaves lesser children's fare all at sea.

Tim Evans