In a realm known as Kumandra, a re-imagined Earth inhabited by an ancient civilization, a warrior named Raya is determined to find the last dragon. -IMDB
It’s unfortunate to me that Raya and the Last Dragon hasn’t gained the traction leading up to its release that we see with many Disney/Pixar films. I think audiences are suffering more than ever from pandemic fatigue and are less likely to pay to go see it in theaters or pay the high prices to stream it on Disney+. I also think that the trailer didn’t do it any particular favors. I remember seeing the trailer for Moana and knowing that I needed to see it as soon as it came out. Raya‘s trailer didn’t seem to touch on many of characters, plotlines, and graphics that I felt made this movie special.
Raya takes place is Kumandra, a prosperous and peaceful land filled with magical dragons which is rampaged by evil spirits known as the Druun. The Druun ultimately succeed in turning almost all of the dragons to stone…almost all, but not before the dragons created a gem imbued with their magic. Five hundred years later, Kumandra is divided into five kingdoms constantly battling one another. The leader of the largest and most prosperous kingdom, Heart (which protects the dragon’s gem), seeks to unite the kingdoms once again. As he relays to his daughter, Raya, he must first show trust in the other kingdoms if they are to trust in him. Unfortunately, a breech of this trust unleashes the Druun and causes the kingdoms to fall even further into despair. At this point, Raya begins her quest to find the Last Dragon and restore Kumandra to its former glory.
I continue to appreciate the new paths that Disney is taking its “princesses” and female leads. This story’s theme is one that I feel is incredibly timely and an important one for children to learn: trust. It continually drives the point home that, although trust and being the first one to place trust in another may not be easy, it is what leads to compromise and to progress. But Disney being Disney, it imparts this lesson with a fun, ragtag cast of characters. Honestly, the supporting characters are what made me enjoy this movie, including a young chef, a baby con-artist and her three monkey accomplices, and a formerly fearsome warrior. Sisu the dragon, voice by everyone’s favorite Awkwafina, is hilarious, sweet, and a unique new hero in the Disney universe.
This is also a beautiful movie to watch. It’s extremely colorful and it’s been fun watching Disney incorporate various animation techniques into their newer films. I appreciate that it seems like they are also incorporating techniques which are associated with the area or culture they are drawing from (yeah…that was a dad joke, my sincere apologies). Ultimately, this is a sweet and fun Disney movie. It may not be an instant classic like some of the others, but I will definitely watch it again and it will be among the Disney library that I encourage (lol force) my future children to watch.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also watch: Onward, Moana, Descendents 2, Kung Fu Panda, The Emperors New Groove
Streaming: Available for purchase on Disney+
With: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan
Directed By: Don Hall, Carlos Lopez Estrada, Paul Briggs