Four months away from the release of Disney's newest film Moana, directors Ron Clements and John Musker have released new images and information on many of the film's characters at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Moana is the first time Disney have introduced a Pacific Island princess to their line up, and it also possibly marks the first time that Pasifika culture has been the focus of such an enormous blockbuster film.
Up until now we knew a little about the main characters and even less about the supporting ones, so jump in and learn all about your soon-to-be-favorite Disney film, Moana:
The main character of the film, Moana — voiced by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho — is the heroine of the film. We know that Moana is the daughter of a chief and has had a deep connection to the ocean since she was a baby (which seems appropriate considering her name means 'ocean'). Moana will follow as she sets off on an adventure, sailing the Pacific as the navigators of the South Pacific used to do (Pacific Islanders were the world's first navigators, using constellations to guide them), in order to fulfil her ancestors' quest.
Of all the characters in Moana, demi-god Maui is the one we know most about due to the fact that he has been an important figure in Pacific Island mythology for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. It's important to note that Maui is not a side-kick to Moana — he's a hero in his own right — but he will join her on her quest.
In the film, Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, is covered in magical moving tattoos ("tattoo" is actually a word that comes from the Samoan word "tatau", where tattoos are a mark of high honor), which tell the story of his previous quests. He also has the ability to shape shift into animals, a pretty useful talent in a traveling companion!
Chief Tui and Sina
It's a rare day when a Disney film allows a character to have both their parents, but it's happened in Moana!
Chief Tui is Moana's father, and is being voiced by New Zealand Maori actor, Temuera Morrison (Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones). Tui is the chief of Motonui Island, and is very overprotective of Moana. He doesn't understand why his daughter wants to sail the oceans, due to what he's seen nature to do man in the past, and would prefer people to stay safe indoors. Tui is actually the name of a bird endemic to New Zealand which is known for being "raucous and noisy," which could be a good indication of the type of character Chief Tui is!
On the flipside is Moana's mother, Sina, voiced by Nicole Scherzinger (X-Factor). Sina is much more sympathetic to her daughters concerns and desires, and acts as a mediator between Moana and her father. Speaking about Sina, director Ron Clements explained "she’s very warm and supportive of her daughter, but she’s trying to negotiate the difference between the two of them and be this peacemaker."
While Tui tries to steer his daughter away from her fascination with the ocean, her Gramma Tala is clearly the one who encourages it, sharing her passion. Clements explains that Tala, voiced by New Zealander Rachel House (Hunt for the Wilderpeople), "is kind of the village crazy lady." Adding "she has a close relationship with Moana, closer really than her parents in some ways." While Chief Tui is concerned with keeping his people safe, Tala is the character who sees the wider picture, and bigger challenges facing the tribe, "so she really helps propel Moana on her journey to solve these things,” director Ron Musker said.
Enough of the human characters, let's get into the animal sidekicks! First up is the rather stupid rooster, Heihei, whose name actually means 'chicken' or 'fowl' in Maori. The rooster accidentally stows away on Moana's outrigger canoe and therefore unintentionally ends up on her journey. Heihei is "voiced" by Alan Tudyk (Frozen) but doesn't actually have any spoken lines, more just roosters crows and such. Clements also promises that Heihei "may be stupider than most chickens you have met," promising total comedic relief.
Adorable Pua joins the cast as Moana's best friend and companion. The voice of Moana, Auli'i Cravalho explained how close the pair are, “while the rest of the island is hesitant for Moana to sail and think she’s kind of crazy to go into the ocean, Pua — aside from being a pig who’s unable to tell her she’s crazy — joins Moana on every journey she goes on." Aw, what a duo! With his splotches, Pua bears a similar resemblance to the kunekune pig, a small (and very cute) breed of pig from New Zealand.
Voiced by Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), Tamatoa is a "comically villainous" 50-foot crab from Lalotai, the realm of monsters. Apparently Tamatoa — whose name means "brave/champion boy" in Maori — has a history with Maui, actually being in possession of Maui's magical fish hook which he is desperate to be reunited with (in Pacific mythology Maui's fish hook is important to him, being made from the jawbone of his grandmother).
We can expect Tamatoa to have a big song scene in the film, and a very deadpan sense of humor, something which comes straight from moments that Clement improvised which recording.
The last group of characters with an image is the newly revealed Kakamora, a group of adorable-looking coconut monsters! Musker revealed that the Kakamora are the first obstacle that Moana and Maui come against on their journey and warns that "the Kakamora may be cute, but they can be quite menacing as a team."
While that was all the art release at Comic-Con, thanks to concept art released at last years D23 Expo, we know that there will also likely be a villainous character which takes the form of lava, dwelling beneath the ocean. Given that much of the Pacific is included in a earthquake and volcanic prone area called the Ring of Fire, it seems very fitting to make one of the villains out of lava, don't you agree?
Moana will be in theaters from November 23, 2016
Are you excited to see Moana?
Source: USA Today