Blu-ray Review: Moana
By John Corrado
Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is a restless teenager in the South Pacific who wants to follow in the footsteps of her explorer ancestors. When the crops on their island start to die due to an ancient curse, she sets out on an ocean journey in search of demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), in order to restore balance.
Nominated for two Oscars, both Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for the big ballad “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana is a thoroughly entertaining and beautifully animated musical adventure that continues Disney’s current winning streak. For more on the film itself, you can read our three views right here.
The Blu-ray also includes commentary with directors John Musker and Ron Clements, the theatrically released short film Inner Workings and the brief but amusing new “Mini-Movie” Gone Fishing, as well as deleted scenes and a solid selection of “behind the scenes” stuff. The meatiest of the featurettes is the half-hour Voice of the Islands, an excellent piece that shows how the filmmakers had their lives changed by their research trips to the Polynesian islands, and the aspects of the film that were added or changed in order to provide a respectful and authentic representation of the culture.
Because this is a musical in the classic Disney tradition, ample attention is also paid to the music. The featurette They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana is a thorough and engaging piece that has interviews with songwriters Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina talking about their creative process. There’s also a deleted song entitled “Warrior Face,” presented with an introduction by Lin-Manuel Miranda, as well as a music video for “How Far I’ll Go” performed by Alessia Cara and a video of the song in multiple different languages.
The featurette Island Fashion focuses on the costume design, which again had to feel authentic to the culture. The four-part feature The Elements Of… showcases brief but worthwhile looks at the specific animation of the water, lava and hair in the film, as well as the traditionally animated “Mini-Maui” character who appears as a tattoo. The bonuses are rounded out by Fishing for Easter Eggs, a brief bit with Auli’i Cravalho pointing out some of the hidden references in the film, and a pair of puff pieces entitled Things You Didn’t Know About… that feature the filmmakers and cast sharing some fun facts about themselves. It’s good stuff all around.
Moana is a Walt Disney Home Entertainment release. It’s 107 minutes and rated PG.