Arielrocks5’s review published on Letterboxd :
I can not put into words how happy this movie made me.
Ron Clements and John Musker have and always will be two of my heroes. Ever since I saw "The Little Mermaid" for the first time about three years ago, I've never been the same. They awoke something deep inside my heart that very few people did. The only others who have come close to doing the same magic are, most recently in fact, Charlie Kaufman and Duncan Jones.
Granted, it's an entirely different story with what the latter did than the former, but it doesn't change what the former did and managed to do once again here.
"Moana" reminded me of why I love Disney the way I do. When it wasn't bringing back memories of some of my favorite works of theirs through tons of similar visual cues, gags, and designs, it was simply making me happy.
I was happy I was there. I was happy I was watching this. I was happy that a movie like this can still exist in a year full of hate, disappointment, and genuine disgust. I was happy that a musical could be one without shame, or need to go along the lines of filling in the blanks with whatever people are listening too. But it can be something I can call a musical and not just a movie that features people singing from time to time.
For as much as I loved "La La Land", the weakest link with that film was the actual use of music. As mentioned there in more detail, it felt as if the film didn't want to go the extra mile of finishing out the song but coped out to let the instrumentals do the rest of the job without finishing out what was started (with the exception of "Audition").
"Moana" goes the route of having the regular amount of songs typically found in most Disney films (putting around 5 or 6 in total, though I could be wrong), but uses them as a means of expressing characters and story elements without it ever feeling like it cuts out before it reaches its peak.
Most of the songs themselves aren't as memorable as others, but man, as much as I could complain about that, when they showed up, I could NOT stop myself from having the time of my life.
And in fact, I think that sums up the my experience with this perfectly. I know for a fact I could find plenty to complain about, like how there's less of a focus of Moana's family once she sets out to sea, even though it took up a good twenty or so minutes of the film, or how the third act tends to feel a bit run of the mill, or any shit like that. But, I just don't want to.
For as much as I could harp on those elements, I could spend an equal amount of time talking about the beautiful colors and animation "Moana" showcases from frame one. Something I noticed about the three main Disney Princess movies of the last 6 years ("Tangled", "Frozen", "Moana"), is that each tend to have a distinct use of specific colors.
With "Tangled", it was Gold and Purple. With "Frozen", it was White and Shades of Light Blue. And with "Moana", it's shimmering Greens and Blues. Every time there's a shot of a island or of the ocean, your eyes are always brought back to the color and what shapes they're taking forms of.
The designs of the characters are worth noting as well. Almost akin to CGI models of Chris Sander's designs used for "Lilo And Stitch" with the typical movement and facial expressions found with John and Ron's previous features.
One particular detail that's worth mentioning is Maui's tattoos moving on a 2D plane across his model and taking resemblance to a mix of the comedic energy showcased with Kronk in "Emperor's New Groove" and the overall design and use of the muses from "Hercules".
Little nods and cues like that are what make me the happiest of all. I grew up with these movies, these animation styles, these types of songs, characters, so on and so forth. So to see the people who made it come back to the big screen for the first time in over five years and make what could very well be a massive tribute to those, like myself, who want to experience that same amount of wonder and joy that they did as they were children.
If there seems to be a lack of technical talk about stuff like talks about how's the voice acting (very good), how's the writing (a tad cliche at points, but still engaging and rather humorous ((plenty of great gags throughout)), how's the music (beautiful), animation (equally beautiful), the characters (incredibly likable), it's because well.....do you really want to hear basically the same tune told through a different instrument, or would you rather read about how much something means to someone?
Sometimes, what can be said has already been said, and it's better to simply do your own thing and come up with something very few people will probably talk about....
My minor issues in regards to stuff I would have preferred to be expanded on aside, "Moana" is simply a joy for fans of animation, Disney, or in general, people looking for a great time at the movies.
I can't recommend this highly enough, and I can't wait to see it again....
"Is there something you want to tell me?" "Is there something you want to hear?"