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Evil coconut pirates? Check! Stupid rooster sidekick? Check! Dwayne Johnson trying to sing? Check! Sharkhead magic-mess? Check! The key ingredients for a funny story with pretty Hawaiian setting are in place, Moana does hardly set a wrong step. The songs are enjoyable if you enjoy this kind of Broadway formula, with the title character’s song “I am Moana” actually rather memorable in its theme tune-ishness. The story of the stubborn almost-princess-girl ignoring the rules and finding her true destiny is nowhere near original, but then again, what is? She is gorgeous and courageous and she defies establishment, and that’s what counts in uplifting films aimed at kids these days. The mission she has to accomplish is easy to be forgotten sometimes and fades into a McGuffin background noise, at least until she actually arrives where she is supposed to arrive and faces a Lava Monster that reminds her of what’s at stake. What stands out is one character and one song, however: The Shiny Crab is weird and creepy and amazing on a level that reminded me of “Tommy” and its age of psychedelia more than anything… do not care whether this does in any way related to the young target group, the Crab ROCKED!

And the rest of the film? Moving from set piece to set piece, some of which less exciting (finding Maui), some more (Coconut! Pirates!). The imagery can be absolutely stunning, such as when Moana sees the reflection of her ancestors as voyagers in a dream-like sequence, or when granny’s tattoo comes to life. The craftsmanship involved here is fantastic. As things are, this must be a key contender for the 2017 Oscar race, and it should be able to keep up with competing “Zootopia” and the slightly more interesting “Kubo and the Two Strings”.

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/moana_2016

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