Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Raya and the Last Dragon (Movie Review)

At the start of the year, I had shared what I considered my most anticipated movies for 2021, most of which were carryovers from 2020. And the only animated film to make that list was Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon, a film that had been on my radar ever since it was announced at the D23 Expo in 2019. Originally slated for a November 2020 release, the movie debuted simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+, through a $30 premier access fee, this past weekend.

Set in a mythical kingdom called Kumandra, the movie follows the adventures of a young woman named Raya (Kelly Marie Tran). She is on a quest to summon the last dragon, Sissu (Akwafina), in a bid to reverse the curse that has turned much of her people to stone, and to banish the Drunn, the evil creatures responsible. But in order to do that, she must journey to the other warring factions that make up Kumandra, to steal back the pieces of a magical orb that serve as the source of the dragon's powers.

The first thing that struck me about Raya and the Last Dragon was its jaw-dropping animation. The wizards at the Walt Disney Animation Studios continue to impress with each subsequent movie they put out, and this latest one is certainly no different. Their movie is populated with lush landscapes and expressive characters, and the whole thing really pops in a way that only big-budget animated movies tend to do.

On the audio side of things, Akwafina once again shines, lending her voice to the titular last dragon. She was full of energy in an excessively talkative way, but never became obnoxiously so, much in the same way that Ellen DeGeneres managed to be in Finding Dory. Kelly Marie Tran also imbued Raya with all the quiet determination the character called for, and the ensemble as a whole was one of the better ones I've seen in an animated film.

Raya and the Last Dragon has all the right ingredients that make up a Disney animated classic. The movie is beautiful to look at, and the voice actors really help to bring the characters to life. But even more than that, it tells a heartfelt story with a message about setting aside our differences and coming together as one, a message that is especially timely today.


  1. We still might hit the theater for this one. Certainly cheaper than watching on Disney+.

  2. I want to see it but cancelled Disney+ after Wandavision (I already own all Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars on DVD/Blu-ray so there is no value in it for me)... will hopefully catch it when I renew Disney+ for the month when Loki comes out. Who knows, maybe UK cinemas will open before that!

    1. Ah. I see. Falcon and the Winter Soldier starts next week though! So you might want to consider renewing that Disney+ subscription sooner rather than later. 😁

    2. I know, but I just feel like that's going to be a filler... besides it's only a couple of months until Loki so I'll catch up then anyway!

    3. Lol. Okay. Fair enough. I'm actually more hyped for Falcon and the Winter Soldier than Loki though, mainly because it will be moving the overall story forward while Loki is set in what looks like a self-contained alternate timeline.

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