Raya and the Last Dragon movie review: Disney's latest plays likes a poor step-cousin of How to Train Your Dragon and Indiana Jones
Movie: Raya and the Last Dragon
Raya and the Last Dragon Voiceover Cast: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Alan Tudyk, Ross Butler, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran
Raya and the Last Dragon Directors: Don Hall, Carlos Lopez Estrada
Where to Watch: In theatres
Back in 2010, Dreamworks came up with one of the best, most lovable and heartwarming animated movies of all time with How to Train Your Dragon, followed by two equally impressive sequels. Prior to that, Hollywood has had a long and rich history of dragon-themed movies or movies with dragons as one or more than one of the principal characters, including The Hobbit trilogy, Dragonheart, Tom and Jerry: The Lost Dragon, and Disney’s own Pete’s Dragon and the original 1998 Mulan. So, does Raya and the Last Dragon join this pantheon of great cinematic dragons. Sadly, it doesn’t even come close.
So, are you excited about what to watch this weekend or what to watch this week and wondering whether Raya and the Last Dragon is worth the trip to the theatre? Scroll down for my full Raya and the Last Dragon review…
What’s it about
Dragons and humans once lived harmony in a world called Kumandra, till malevolent creatures known as Druuns started turning humans to stone until dragons sacrificed themselves to save the rest of humanity, with the last dragon, Sisu, turning her spirit into a magical gem to vanquish the last of the Druuns. 500 years later, a divided land and warring tribes battle each other for the gem, which unleashes a few of the Druuns again, but Raya, the princess of the Heart tribe, also finds a way to bring back Sisu with her piece of the gem, and together, they set about on a quest to collect and join together the remaining gem pieces in order to obliterate the Druuns forever.
Check out the Raya and the Last Dragon trailer here…
The action is spectacular, particular some of the hand-to-hand combat scenes and chase sequences. The animation and VFX are gorgeous, too, but those factors are bound to be brilliant in any Disney movie, be it animated or live-action, The news would be if Disney fails to live up to its lofty standards in the technical departments. Furthermore, Raya and the Last Dragon boasts a few magical moments (but, strictly, only a few), with Sisu the dragon functioning as a propeller for a ship, the introduction of a baby and her pet monkeys as a gang of thieves, and Sisu finally showing his true stature in all grandeur to save Raya being the most noteworthy among them.
For a movie set in an ancient era, the world-building of Raya and the Last Dragon isn’t nearly as imaginative or expansive or well-planned as it could’ve been a stark failure on the part of Directors Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada as also the production design team. Speaking about directorial failures, Disney’s latest animated offering also lacks a surprisingly captivating dragon, with Sisu coming off as nothing more than a wriggly, giant lizard with a large mane. From no angle does it look like, feel, or behave like the dragons we’ve come to love on screen, including some of Disney’s own.
Even if Disney was aiming for a Chinese dragon as a part of Asian representation (every character and the voiceover cast is also, largely Asian), this dragon would hardly inspire awe and that’ wow’ factor in viewers. Additionally, everything seems quite easily earned in Raya’s quest, with the challenges presenting hardly any obstacles. What’s more, you just can’t shake off the hangover of How to Train Your Dragon and even Indiana Jones in a majority of the scenes, plus, remain aghast at how much they pale in comparison to those classics. The biggest banes of the film have got to be how derivative, predictable, easy, run-off-the-mill and uninspiring everything feels.
Barring a few moments of true magic unfolding on screen and a handful of exciting sequences to boot, Raya and the Last Dragon looks nothing more than an attempt to outdo Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon and cash in on Indiana Jones-styled adventures for a modern-day audience who, the makers must’ve bet to not be well-versed with the Harrison Ford’s classics, but, ultimately, Disney’s latest animated movie falls way off the intended results on both counts.
2 out of 5
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