Raya and the Last Dragon feels too rushed to qualify as a full saga, but is nonetheless memorable for spirit and character.
Raya and the Last Dragon
Drunn are manifestations of disharmony that can petrify living beings. After they invade Kumandra, the dragon guardians of the land exhausted their magic to imprison them, following which they were turned to stone themselves. 500 years later, Kumandra is divided into five antagonistic tribes each named after a part of a dragon, with the tribe of Heart guarding the Dragon Gem, the last remaining source of dragon magic. A failed attempt by the chief of Heart to unite the tribes then splits the gem and releases the Drunn. To save her petrified father, Raya, i.e., the daughter of the chief of Heart embarks on a long quest to reassemble the gem. After six years, she finally makes an important breakthrough. She locates Sisu, the legendary last dragon that supposedly created the mighty gem.
Apart from the shorter run-time, which resulted in some parts of the adventure feeling too rushed, I have little to complain about Raya and the Last Dragon.
It’s very modern, and yet, also faithful to the refined Disney formula. There are mentally and physically hardy heroines, and adorable mascots are in abundance.
Of course, it’s also all about a fantasy road trip. A quest across a land as varied as it is divided.
Regarding the story, I feel it is politically laden. It is so obviously a scathing commentary on distrust between nations and how that generates a plague of woes for everyone. Being a Disney animated adventure, the resolution or “advice” given is naturally simplistic too, probably something real-life politicians would scoff at.
It’s not a huge flaw to me, though. Naive as it sounds, I do believe the resolution of many complex issues begins with goodwill. Perhaps not in the trusting way goofy Sisu does it with, but well, it’s always a positive first step.
Speaking of Sisu, Awkwafina delivered such a wonderfully hyper voiceover. A performance that’s suitably moronic or amazingly insightful at different moments.
The land-saving heroines of Raya and Namaari aren’t on my list of favourite kickass Disney Princesses, yet. But with another viewing, who knows? They just might be. They probably would be.
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