When you hear the phrase "Disney Classic," what movies come to mind? The Lion King? The Little Mermaid? Beauty and The Beast? Mulan? Cinderella? For most, the films included in the "Disney Renaissance" (roughly the '90s) are those we consider classics. However, the period of time we live in right now is being considered "The Revival Era" or "The Second Disney Renaissance." With films like Big Hero 6, Frozen, Tangled, Wreck-It-Ralph, and most recently Zootopia, Disney is bringing a whole new generation of people new classics to love. Coming in November of this year, the studio is set to release Moana, a film starring superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and newcomer Auili'i Cravalho. From what we've seen so far, Moana is already destined to become another Disney classic and here's why.
3. Stunning And Imaginative Animation
With a studio as cemented in the animation industry as Disney, it should come as no surprise that their latest endeavor is on the cutting edge of the animation world. The computer-generated film utilizes some of the best technology in the industry while still staying true to Disney's renowned look. Like the classic Disney Renaissance era movie The Lion King, the animation team traveled to the part of the world in which the world is set. For Moana, the team traveled to the South Pacific for two weeks to fully study and understand the movement of the waves, the creatures of the area, the look of the people and more. Unlike most Disney movies, the animals in Moana are incapable of speech, however, the imaginative team behind the movie has decided to make the unlikeliest of things characters. Utilizing brilliant anthropomorphization, things like the water and lava are brought to life as friends and foes of our primary human characters.
2. Talented Cast
Every movie, regardless of genre, is reliant on the capabilities of their cast. A movie can be written, directed, and shot as beautifully as possible, but if the actors can't make us fall in love with the characters, we quickly lose interest. Luckily for Moana, Disney has made some genius casting moves. Playing the demi-god Maui, actor (and future President?) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been highlighted in the trailers we've seen so far. He brings a comedic element and realness to his character. Being of Polynesian heritage himself, Disney has decided to cast people who share a similar background as their characters. Being based around Hawaii and the South Pacific, Disney has cast Hawaiian actress Anuli'i Cravalho as the titular hero. We haven't seen much of her character yet, but hopefully she'll be able to apply her own life to the adventurous heroine of our story. Being directed by John Musker and Ron Clements (the minds behind The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Princess and the Frog) the talented cast is surely to make us fall in love with these characters who will forever hold a place in our hearty.
1. Marvelous Music
"Hakuna mata," "a tale as old as time," "let it go" — lyrics that have been ingrained into everyone's minds. For any Disney movie to be considered a classic, the most important ingredient is the music. Thirteen Disney original songs have won an Oscar at the Academy Awards and if Moana follows suit, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda could become only the 13th person in history to EGOT (win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony!) There are two very important people responsible for the music behind Moana and, given their pedigree, the music of Moana could become the greatest Disney music we have ever heard. Lin-Manuel Miranda (who is also working with Alan Menkin on the live action The Little Mermaid) is the genius mind behind the Broadway sensation Hamilton, which has invigorated young people (and old people too) to love Broadway, music, and history. Hamilton won a record-shattering amount of awards at this year's Tonys. It's also won a Grammy, and Miranda himself even won a Pulitzer Prize for it.
In addition to Miranda's creative genius is seasoned Disney veteran Mark Mancina. As a three-time Grammy winner, Mancina has a deep understanding of what it takes to make music for a Disney classic. He arranged songs for The Lion King (both the movie and the hit Broadway adaptation), he worked on Tarzan and Tarzan II and now he's been working with Miranda to create some stellar music that is sure to melt our hearts and send shivers down our spines.
Clearly Disney knows the way to create a classic. Combine the music, the cast, the animation, and a few other intangible ingredients and you have the makings of a true masterpiece. Now of course, we won't know for sure until the movie comes out, but I'll call it right now. Moana will be the next Disney classic. It will be remembered for years to come for its creativity, excellence, and imagination. And if that isn't something to be excited for, I don't know what is. Remember Disney: "History has its eyes on you."