Raya and the Last Dragon acts as a reminder Disney can still make impactful original productions that will not only make you cry but be added to their collection of classics.
|Director(s)||Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Paul Briggs, John Ripa|
|Screenplay By||Qui Nguyen, Adele Lim|
|Date Released (Theatrical)||3/4/2021|
|Genre(s)||Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Young Adult, Animation, Family|
|Duration||1 Hour 54 Minutes|
|Raya||Kelly Marie Tran|
|Benja||Daniel Dae Kim|
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When Raya was a child, her father spoke about Benja spoke about a time when the various tribes were one, and everyone lived in peace. That was nearly 500 years ago, and now each tribe, selfish in their own way, don’t trust the other, and the idea of being one is a child’s dream. Yet, Chief Benja of the Heart tribe, believes one day, everyone can come together, and what was once known as Kumandra could return.
However, thanks to the Fang tribe, what peace there once was gets broken, and so comes what are known as the drunes. Now, what are they? They are toxic entities that, when they touch any living being, turn them to stone. They are considered the opposite of dragons, of which there was once plenty, who brought to Raya’s world life.
So, 6 years after the Fang tribe’s betrayal and the rise of the drunes, Raya is trying to piece together a gem, the heart of their world, hoping it may bring her father back from stone and reset the world to what it once was.
Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Reason(s) for Film Rating: PG level violence between Raya and others, especially Namaari.
- Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: Raya’s trust issues, and everyone mourning the relationships with family members who have turned to stone, it is going to get you in your feelings. So make sure you drank plenty of water and are ready to sneak a tissue under your mask.
It’s Focus On The Power of Trust
Despite Disney and Pixar usually building off of their characters’ childhood, which usually includes an absent parent or some sense of trauma, Raya and the Last Dragon might be one of the few to address that head-on.
Granted, Frozen did this in a way, but with Raya and the Last Dragon not being a musical, you have nothing but the moment and the characters’ feelings. All of which aren’t accentuated with a song, so instead, you are forced to reflect in the quieter moments and get lost in your own feelings. For what is a grander betrayal than someone you thought was your friend proving otherwise? Especially when you are exposing yourself, allowing yourself to be vulnerable to them, only to learn they were preying on you.
Which makes it so the film does push this angle that is equal parts forgiveness of others, as much as yourself. When Sisu comes in, there is this feeling that she is naïve and silly because of her walking into each situation with a smile and a sense of love. However, in time, it forces you to realize that the youthful Sisu hasn’t lost that feeling that most people are good. Some, yeah, they are bastards but generally speaking, you should be able to ask something of someone and, unless it’s a big ask, they’ll give it to you out of the kindness of their heart.
And that is one of the things the film leaves with you, the question of what broke your trust in strangers and can you, or will you, make an effort to get that back?
The Parent/ Child Relationships
Whether it is Raya’s relationship with her mom, Namaari with hers, Boun missing his sister ruffling his hair, or even Noi bonding with Tong like a father, something swells in you. For alongside presenting the importance of trust, Raya and the Last Dragon pushes the idea of the importance of family and community. Be it how their influence makes you a better person, like in the case of Raya, or how their absence can take you down a dark road, as we see with Little Noi. With each relationship and seeing how the presence or absence of a person changes someone, it really forces you to understand the sense of loss many characters go through.
Thus being one of the reasons you’ll be crying while watching this.
Raya and the Last Dragon reminds you that, while Disney may make a good amount of money remaking their animated classics into live-action films, what built the house of mouse was animation, and what will sustain it is animation. Not to downplay the role of the MCU, Star Wars, and all of the acquisitions the company has made, but when it comes to the core brand, that allowed for the expansion, films like Raya and the Last Dragon are what continues your love for Disney and what brings on new fans.
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On The Radar
- Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
- Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
- Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
- Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.
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