Moana

Moana ★★★½

There's a lot to love here. The songs are wonderful, catchy and illuminating, even if there aren't enough of them. Dwayne Johnson kills as his arrogant mention, as does newcomer Auli'i Cravalho as the headstrong title character. And the story comes together as a powerful rumination on how the past shapes our futures. And this movie is gorgeous, the water shimmering, the ocean actually seeming inviting (I hate the ocean, so this is a big deal).

What holds this back is a decidedly scraggly narrative, which takes a long time to get going and meanders once it gets there. Character arcs shuffle along awkwardly, artificially slowing down towards the end, and the pay offs are stilted and occasionally unsatisfying - especially that of the idiot chicken character, whose 2 or 3 ridiculous traits are highlighted so much that their eventual irrelevance to the narrative feels like a cheat. If this was a little bit tighter, this would be amazing. As it is, it's pretty good.

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