Walt Disney Animation Studios 59th animated classic is “Raya and the Last Dragon”, which will be coming to cinemas and also to Disney+ Premier Access on March 5th.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” takes viewers on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land by turning all living beings into stone, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity by creating a powerful crystal that keeps the evil force locked away.
500 years later, that same evil has returned, turning everyone they come into contact with, into stone. It’s up to a lone warrior called Raya, who follows an ancient scroll to track down the legendary last dragon so she can restore bring back her father. Here she meets the last dragon called Sizu, and they must travel to all five kingdoms of Kumandra to reunited the broken crystal to bring back their loved ones. Along the way, she meets up with a ragtag bunch of misfits who have to unite to save the kingdom.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” is easily one of the most beautiful animated movies ever made. The backgrounds and landscapes are stunning. There are many moments throughout the movie that many might not notice, but are huge steps forward in technology, especially the way they animate water. With the film heading to five different lands throughout the kingdom, each with a different terrain; for example, one kingdom is set in a desert, another is a town built on the stilts above the rive and another in the forest. Moving through the lands, reminded me of many video games, where the location can completely change the mood. The desert scenes just look stunning as the dust floats across the screen, and the winding rivers with the mountains just looked stunning.
My only small issue with the film’s animation style is that sometimes the humans feel out of place, since everything around them is so lifelike, and the humans don’t have that same art style. The cute animal characters like Tuk Tuk have the typical Disney movie style, big eyes and smiles, which are adorable and will appeal to younger audiences.
I really love the dragon art style used in this film, Sizu doesn’t look like your traditional western dragon, which is more like a large dinosaur that sprays fire and are usually monsters. This movie completely adopts the eastern dragon style, the long bodies, cute eyes and flowing hair. Dragons in the east are wise, friendly, and beautiful creatures. The style completely fits what this film is all about, and being someone who has spent several months travelling around China and Japan. I completely got drawn into the art style and culture of this film. Especially as they also pull in some eastern religions to help make the film more authentic.
One thing that stood out to me about “Raya and the Last Dragon” is that this movie is about female empowerment; Raya and Sizu are strong female characters. They are the heroes in this story; there isn’t a love story to distract her, no musical moments. Raya isn’t looking for help as she is a fully trained and capable warrior who is focused on the job she needs to do. Even the villains of the film are mainly female, and that works perfectly for this film. When Raya comes to her battle scenes, she doesn’t hold back, and we get some great fight scenes that could be right out of a Star Wars or Marvel movie. I’m sure Raya is going to be an extremely popular character for years to come.
“Raya and the Last Dragon”, is a full-blown action-adventure film with lots of style. It has a strong heart, and while it does lean in a little too much on the idea that they’ve got to go to every land in the kingdom to obtain an item they need. It’s very well done. I really enjoyed “Raya and the Last Dragon”. It’s not your typical princess movie, and I’m delighted it’s not, because “Raya and the Last Dragon” is both modern and old fashioned at the same time because of the Asian influence. The movie pulls on many film genres, including westerns and martial arts movies, along with the scope of some of the biggest fantasy franchises.
Is “Raya and the Last Dragon” worth $29.99 on Disney+ Premier Access? It’s a tricky one. Personally, I really enjoyed this film and will be watching it again. It’s beautiful to watch and has an incredible soundtrack that helps take you off to this magical world. If this was only in cinemas in normal times, I would say if you or your family like action-adventure fantasy movies, this is well worth seeing. The more of you that will be able to watch the film, it will make that price tag more bearable. I purchased “Mulan” when it was added on Disney+ Premier Access and loved that film, it was one of my favourite movies of 2020 and I think many of the things I loved about that movie, “Raya and the Last Dragon” does as well, but differently. It’s full of action, great characters and I’m sure most people will enjoy it. But at $29.99, if you’ve seen the trailer and aren’t sure, honestly I’d say wait. But….if you enjoyed the trailer and want possibly one of the best-animated films released in years, I think “Raya and the Last Dragon” is worth it. Just don’t go in expecting Frozen or Tangled, it’s a very different type of princess movie and I loved it!
Rating 4.5 out of 5
“Raya and the Last Dragon” are coming to cinemas and to Disney+ Premier Access on March 5th.
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.