Disney, once the king of animated movies, has finally climbed back to the top once again.
Raya and the Last Dragon has hit theaters and the Disney+ premium service and proved that the studio can put out movies with the same heart as a Pixar or Laika, as the movie joins recent output like Moana and Frozen as top-tier animated efforts.
Raya and the Last Dragon review
Raya and the Last Dragon takes place in the land of Kumandra, where dragons once helped bring prosperity and peace to the world. However, 500 years ago, evil spirits known as the Druun arrived and destroyed the dragons.
With that, the world grew apart and the once united people of Kumandra split into separate lands, each hateful or fearful of the other. It is a lot like the world today.
There was one man, Chief Benga of the Heart Tribe who wanted to bring peace back to the world. The only problem is that his kingdom held the dragon’s orb that beat the Druun and saved the world from death.
The other lands hate the Heart Tribe, believing it is using the orb to remain prosperous while the rest suffer. At the same time, all lands hate and fear each other, seeing rival tribes as barbarians, thieves, and mercenaries.
When Chief Benga invites all the tribal leaders to his land as a sign of good faith, the head of the Fang Tribe betrays Benga’s daughter Raya. Namaari pretends to be her friend to learn where the orb is and then attacks her, calling her warriors in to steal it.
In the battle for the orb, it falls and breaks. Members of each tribe grab a piece of it, but since it broke, the Druun is freed and attacks. Chief Benga is turned to stone, along with several others, and the world grows more divided than before.
Six years later, Raya sets out to find if the legend of a surviving dragon is true and eventually finds it is when she discovers Sisu and frees her. The two then set out to retake the pieces of the orb so Sisu can put them back together and heal the world again.
The one person standing in the way is Namaari, who wants to find the pieces so the Fang Tribe, blamed for the return of the Druun, can save its land above all others.
In 2021, the world has grown more divided than ever. It is true everywhere, as people hate others for no reason other than that they live somewhere different, look different, or just have different beliefs.
There is one theme in Raya and the Last Dragon and that is the lack of trust and belief in other people. Since Namaari betrayed Raya’s trust and she lost her father as a result, Raya has no faith in anyone. When she shows trust, she is often betrayed again and again.
It isn’t until the survivors finally trust one another that they can finally beat back the darkness and find the light once again.
The cast, which includes Kelly Marie Tran as Raya, Awkwafina as Sisu, and Gemma Chan as Namaari are fantastic in bringing this story to life.
The animation is gorgeous. Many people will see this only on their television screens, but if people are where they can safely go to the theaters to see the movie, this is one that is well worth the trip. It is up there with Moana as a work of true animated beauty.
Raya and the Last Dragon final thoughts
Raya and the Last Dragon is a gorgeous Disney animated film and continues Disney’s track record of top-quality releases.
The timing is impeccable as this is a movie that 2021 needs more than ever before. This is a movie where there appear to be villains, but the only real evil is the faceless Druun that eats away all happiness and joy and leaves its victims as stone statues and reminders of what could have been.
The world needs more movies that are shamelessly optimistic and has no problem playing with its heart on its sleeve.
The world needs love to defeat hate and blind ignorance, and this movie has no problem showing how acceptance, kindness, and trust can bring the light while hate and intolerance will eat the entire world away into an ugly, stale shell of itself.
There are plenty of funny moments to ease the tension at times, and there is a lot of cuteness for the little kids. This is a movie that has a hard lesson to teach, and it is one that both kids and adults need to hear right now in this ugly, divided world in which we live.
Raya and the Last Dragon is the perfect movie for 2021 and is the first must-see film of the year.
Raya and the Last Dragon is in theaters right now and is also available for an extra charge on Disney+.