Combining fantastic visuals with a magical and adventurous story – this is a wonderful, action packed film.
Disney is certainly gives us some strong female characters to get behind in this colourful fantasy-action film that has visual effects that impressively make the audience feel as though they are on Raya’s adventure as well.
The story plays out as a a hugely important quest surrounding a magical stone that was created by magical dragons and was then used by the last dragon Sisu to stop an impending disaster in the form a villainous force that was working its way across the land, turning people into stone and dividing Kumandra into five separate kingdoms . The stone was broken as Raya and her father Benja tried to unite the different clans to put the world back together – now Raya has to travel to different parts of the country to reclaim parts of the stone as well as trying to find Sisu and trying to put the world back together.
Raya and the Last Dragon is an entertaining and impressive film in terms of the way in which its message of how important it is for people to work together in terms of times of sorrow and crisis to make the world a better place. It seems to a message that we all need reminding of at the moment. But it also never talks down to its audience – thanks to a screenplay that has been well written, characters with contemporary ideas and it certainly never seems to be a ‘typical’ Disney princess story.
But equally, the attention to detail that directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada pay in each new world discovered by Raya and her friends is of the highest quality. In particular, the close up shots of water and stone for example look startlingly life like that you can almost touch it, this in turn ensures that the audience truly believes in the story and the magic. In terms of animation, Disney have once again upped their game to bring to life a world that audiences can happily get lost in.
Meanwhile, the characters are all wonderfully voiced by the cast – each of whom offers a different dynamic to keep the audience completely invested in their characters. In particular, Awkwafina as Sisu the water dragon has plenty of sass and warmth that makes her her a likeable sidekick to Kelly Marie Tran’s strong and passionate Raya. Tran manages to convey a huge amount of emotion and personality throughout in her grounded performance. She is also well matched by the strength Gemma Chan’s Namaari – who is the enemy of Raya having betrayed her and their energy in the scenes that they have together is really impressive in the way it highlights the complexity of their relationship. It is a well put together cast, all of whom help to provide the film with its emotional core effectively – with no one dominating any of the other cast members.
Overall, Raya and the Last Dragon stands out in terms of its ambition to provide a story with a message that audiences young and old can relate to.
By Emma Clarendon
Raya and the Last Dragon is available to watch on Disney Plus for an additional fee (still must have a Disney Plus subscription).