moana-2016-poster-05Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows why.

From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes Moana, a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

Release date: November 23, 2016
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Directors: John Musker, Ron Clements
MPAA Rating: PG (for peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Auli’i Cravalho, Jemaine Clement, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk
Genre: Comedy, Animation, Adventure
Official website: Disney.com/Moana | Facebook

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Moana has received positive reviews from critics.

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 99%, based on 79 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “With a title character as three-dimensional as its lush animation and a story that adds fresh depth to Disney’s time-tested formula, Moana is truly a family-friendly adventure for the ages.”

On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 80 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews.”

NOTES

PRODUCTION NOTES

Moana is a 2016 American 3D computer-animated musical fantasy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 56th Disney animated feature film. It is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, and co-directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams. The film introduces Auli’i Cravalho as Moana and features Dwayne Johnson as Maui. The film features music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina.

Synopsis
Moana is a small girl on the island of Motunui ruled by her overprotective father, Chief Tui, who orders his tribe to never sail beyond the reef. However, Moana feels a deep connection to the ocean. One day, Moana discovered something in the ocean, but loses possession of it when her father comes to retrieve her. However, the item is picked up by Moana’s grandmother, Tala, who believes that it is the lost heart of Te Fiti, the mother island as it was stolen by the Demi-God, Maui, and it subsequently caused a disruption in nature.

When Moana becomes a teenager, Tala takes her into a secret cave where Moana feels the spirits of her ancestors, the Wayfinders, when she bangs on a drum. Tala urged Moana to sail across the ocean to find Maui and gain his help to restore the heart of Te Fiti, which is put inside of her necklace for safety. However, en eoute to Maui’s location, Moana is nearly killed by a passing storm, which causes a huge wave to fall on her. When she awakens the next morning, she finds herself stranded on an island where she meets Maui himself, who reveals himself to be an arrogant, self-serving ne’er-do-well. He tries to use Moana’s boat to get off the island, but Moana’s influence on the ocean causes her to catch up to Maui whenever he tries to desert her.

Forced to assist Moana on her quest, Maui makes a deal with Moana to help her if she can help him get back his magic hook that he lost to the greedy giant Cocoanut Crab monster Tamatoa, who resides in Lalotai, the island of monsters. After getting past an army of neanderthals called the Kakamora, they reach Lalotai where Moana soon tricks Tamatoa into giving her Maui’s hook. After escaping Lalotai, Maui shows Moana the way of wayfinding, which is a way to control the ocean, the moon, and the stars. When the journey turns difficult, Tala’s spirit visit’s Moana to encourage her to continue her quest by telling her to know who she is meant to be.

Moana and Maui make it to Te Fiti, where they are soon attacked by a lava monster named Te Ka. Struggling to stop the monster, Moana decides to give the heart of Te Fiti to Te Ka, which causes her to return to her original, gentle, plant covered soul, putting the whole world back in balance. Maui and Moana share their goodbyes before the former turns into a hawk to fly off and Moana returns to her village where she reunites with her family.

Voice cast

Auli’i Cravalho as Moana Waialiki, the high-spirited sixteen-year-old daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators, who sets sail to an island with an almighty demigod to help save her family from annihilation. As her name means “ocean,” she has an uncanny connection with it and all its creatures.
Louise Bush as the singing voice of Moana
Dwayne Johnson as Maui, the legendary demigod who sets off with Moana on her journey.
Rachel House as Gramma Tala, Moana’s Grandmother. Like Moana, Tala shares a passion for the ocean.
Temuera Morrison as Chief Tui Waialiki, Moana’s overprotective father and chief of Motunui Island.
Christopher Jackson as the singing voice of Tui
Nicole Scherzinger as Sina Waialiki, Moana’s mother and Tui’s wife.
Jemaine Clement as Tamatoa, a villainous 50-foot crab from Lalotai, the realm of monsters.
Alan Tudyk as Hei Hei, Maui and Moana’s pet rooster, and described by director Ron Clements as “the dumbest character in the history of Disney animation.”
Tudyk also voices Villager #3
Oscar Kightley as Fisherman
Troy Polamalu as Villager #1
Puanani Cravalho as Villager #2

Production
After directing The Princess and the Frog (2009), Clements and Musker started working on an adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Mort, but problems with acquiring the necessary film rights prevented them from continuing with that project. To avoid a recurrence of that issue, they pitched three new ideas, and in 2011 started developing Moana based upon an original idea.

Originally, the film was going to focus on Moana rescuing her father, who had been lost at sea. The story changed drastically during the development phase (which is typical of most Disney films), and the original idea ultimately survived only as a subtle element of the father’s backstory.

In 2012, Clements and Musker went on research trips to Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti to meet the people of the South Pacific and learn about their culture. Over the five years it took to develop and produce the film, Clements and Musker recruited experts from across the South Pacific to form an Oceanic Story Trust, who consulted on the film’s cultural accuracy and sensitivity as its story evolved through nine different versions.

Moana will be Clements and Musker’s first fully computer-animated film. One of the reasons for using computer animation was that the environment, including the ocean, benefited much more from the use of CGI as opposed to a traditional animation. The filmmakers have also suggested that three-dimensional computer animation is well-suited to the “beautiful sculpturing” of the faces of the people of the South Pacific.Maui’s tattoos will be hand-drawn.

Taika Waititi wrote the initial screenplay for the film. Subsequent versions of the film’s story were contributed by Clements, Musker, Chris Williams, Don Hall, Pamela Ribon, Aaron Kandell, and Jordan Kandell. Jared Bush received sole credit as the writer of the final version of the screenplay. Eric Goldberg worked on the animation. The film will feature music by Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

After the filmmakers sat through auditions of hundreds of candidates from across the Pacific, 14-year-old high school freshman Auli’i Cravalho was cast as the lead character Moana, a young girl who sets sail with Maui. At that point in time, the design of Moana’s face and personality was already complete, and Cravalho’s obvious physical resemblance to her character was simply a coincidence. During animation production, Disney animators were able to integrate some of Cravalho’s mannerisms into Moana’s behavior as depicted onscreen. Like most animated films, the lead actors read their lines with the directors in recording sessions entirely separate from one another; Cravalho and Johnson did not meet for the first time in person until much later after production was complete.

As with most Disney and Pixar animated films, several major story problems were identified in 2015 only after the film had already transitioned from development into production, but computer-generated films tend to have much shorter production schedules and much larger animation teams (in this case, about 90 animators) than traditionally-animated films. Since Clements and Musker were already working 12-hour days (and Saturdays) directing such a large team of animators, Hall and Williams (who had just finished directing Big Hero 6) came onboard as co-directors to help fix the film’s story issues.

The scene in which Maui and Moana encounter the Kakamora is an intentional homage to Mad Max: Fury Road.

CAST/CREW

CAST & CREW

Directed by Ron Clements, John Musker

Produced by Osnat Shurer

Screenplay by Jared Bush

Story by
Ron Clements
John Musker
Chris Williams
Don Hall
Pamela Ribon
Aaron Kandell
Jordan Kandell

Starring
Auli’i Cravalho
Dwayne Johnson
Rachel House
Temuera Morrison
Jemaine Clement
Nicole Scherzinger
Alan Tudyk

Music by
Mark Mancina
Lin-Manuel Miranda (songs)
Opetaia Foa’i (songs)

Edited by Jeff Draheim

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