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(film review) [STREAMING] - Raya and the Last Dragon

Pronounced "Rye-ah".  I had been calling it Ray-Ah because, well I'm English and I say things the wrong way all the time because,  Anyway, when I saw this trailer, I thought to myself, "I haven't seen a decent cartoon movie from Disney in a little while".  It would have been Toy Story 4 but the last Disney cartoon movie I watched was Soul... and before that, The Lion King then Toy Story 4.  But although I really enjoyed Soul, I feel I had a slightly better time with Toy Story 4 because I knew the characters, the story was great and it has stuck with me since seeing it, as in, it is more memorable and funny.  It was just a great cartoon.  Considering Toy Story has been going on for years, it really hasn't lost it's step.  With Soul, although I enjoyed the story and the meaning, it was really good, but seeing a black guy as a cat through majority of the film couldn't let me resonate with it as much as I would have liked to looking back at it now, since I have watched it a few times, but still a really good movie, just hasn't stuck with me as much as it perhaps, should have.  The Lion King, was the Lion King.  Raya, when it was finished, although the story was great but the meaning was a little wishy-washy for me, I understood ultimately the message and this movie was really good.

Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) belongs to one of five tribes that live in a land called Kumandra.  These tribes have been at war for centuries after an event that left them in a power struggle.  Raya believes a magical orb is the solution to peace, so she goes on a quest to seek out Sisu (Awkwafina) The Last Dragon in an bid to try and bring the tribes together and restore peace.

If I say anything more, I would spoil moments of the movie, however, I really enjoyed this movie, a lot.  Maybe I'm forcing myself to like it more because I got it under Disney Premier Access, but no, I really did enjoy it.  I felt the animation was amazing, but at this rate, from when they have made animated Lions, Tigers and Bears, oh my, look amazingly real, then this was nothing in the grand scheme of things.  The characters looked great and I remember noting from the trailers, the skin on these characters were soo smooth and somewhat "plastic-like" but also real?  I can't really put my finger on it but the colours for the skin tones and the lighting were just great.  I also adored the depth of view, like what our camera's do now, you know, portrait mode when the background is blurry.  Soo effective.  Talking about depth, I felt the story was serviceable but it lacked just a little bit of depth, like the quest felt short.  I felt like it didn't feel epic enough or that it took years to get to where we are, although it is heavily implied.  I also felt that we could have had more epic fight scenes.  Maybe because I am a huge fan of Eastern Culture such as Samurai's and warriors of that sort, I believe it would have went a long way if we had just more epic fights like the kinds you see in 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' or 'Hero', you know? Mulan is not on this list because I keep falling asleep.  I must get back to it though.

The characters and the voice acting was great.  I feel Kelly Marie Tran did a great job, although I hear she wasn't the original person for the role.  For some reason, I don't believe I have actually heard Awkwafina speak, or at least I know her name than her voice, I actually though she sounded more like Natasha Lyonne, but she did really good in her role as Sisu The Last Dragon.  Some other characters such as the con-baby (as stated in the trailers) and essentially Raya's nemesis were great characters and I loved the battle of two people desperately wanting to be friends, but because they are of opposing tribes, they can't and don't trust each other due to generations and generations of civil unrest, a little like Romeo and Juliet.  You know, create your own path, don't let your parents or the generations before dictate your future.  That could have actually have been the message here as I think about it.

What I will definitely say is, this film would have been great to watch in the cinema and get that cinema experience.  It deserved a big screen, it deserves them booming speakers and a nice comfortable sitting arrangement and snacks, but I guess two out of four isn't terrible at all, plus you don't have to travel home...

Pay that premier price, it's definitely worth it.

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