An authentic blend of mythology, martial arts, imagery, and cultural identities from several Southeast Asian cultures woven into its own vision by three Southeast Asian screenwriters are just part of what makes RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON a visual masterpiece.
With major themes of trust and teamwork threaded throughout the film, RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is a story for all ages and is as inspiring as it is visually stunning. Read on for our RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON Review.
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON Review
What Works – RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON Review
One of the things we LOVE about RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is the use of Nāga in the depiction of Sisu. When choosing how to depict the dragon in RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON, the screenwriters chose Nāga versus a Chinese dragon. A Chinese dragon is based on luck and power and has sweeping powers and breathes clouds, whereas the Nāga is a serpent-like creature associated with water representing life and hope. The symbolism surrounding life, hope, and water is more approachable than sweeping power and clouds.
If you're all about the visuals, the animation in RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is stunning. It's no secret that with every film Disney's animation gets more detailed and more vibrant but RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is just, wow. The hair is so lifelike. The water looks like you could skip a stone on it.
Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina are LIFE. They are so good in this movie together. I could watch it over and over just for them. The voices, as a whole, are aptly cast, with a lot of fan favorites and big hitters.
The use of four distinct styles of martial arts for representation is a unique incorporation.
- Pencack silat: Indonesia, Malaysia
- Muay Thai: Thailand
- Traditional Wrestling: Indonesia
- Arnis: Philippines
The incorporation of multiple martial arts styles and Southeast Asian food and architecture for representation is also important. It's incredibly challenging to create a film representing a monolithic culture. By incorporating various Southeast Asian cultures and calling out specific ones, RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is at least acknowledging they are not the same. However, there are some Southeast Asian cultures where cultural fusion does exist. Malaysia is a prime example, especially with its food.
What Doesn't Work – RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON Review
As much as we love a good Disney movie and any family-friendly film with a happy ending, predictability gets old.
I'm not saying we didn't enjoy this film and that it isn't well done. However, even the teensiest bit of plot twist would make it just that much better. My husband jokingly said at the part when they turn to stone, that they should end the movie there because it would have been more interesting. Because the movie is THAT predictable.
About RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON takes us on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON features an outstanding voice cast, including Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Soong, Patti Harrison, and Ross Butler. Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada are directing, with Paul Briggs and John Ripa co-directing. Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho are the producers, and Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim wrote the screenplay.
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON will be available on Disney+ with Premiere Access in most Disney+ markets, at the same time as it is released in select theaters on March 5, 2021.
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