A world in danger, five kingdoms in open battle with each other, two gritty princesses, a lot of Asian culture and a pinch of magic, as Disney's mother wisely knows how to dose. These are some of the main pillars of Raya and the last dragon, the highly anticipated feature film Disney born from the minds of the creators of Oceania and Frozen and available with a VIP package on Disney + starting from 5 March. We have seen in preview the film, which catapulted us into a dreamlike and imaginative world, but which is at the same time loaded with action, in an unexpected mix. Only in the harmony of these elements will Kumandra return to what it once was ...
We are Kumandra, a wonderful land where i draghi they live in harmony with humans, guaranteeing peace; or so it was before the arrival of the Druun, evil destructive entities that have jeopardized the fate of all living beings. In their strength and wisdom, the dragons sacrificed themselves to drive out the Druuns, leaving Kumandra forever and condensing into one gemma. The kingdom of Heart, of which Stripe she is the princess, she guards this precious relic from the ambitions of other peoples, who have become more selfish and suspicious after the disappearance of the dragons. And this Raya soon realizes on her own skin: the princess Namaari of the kingdom Fang tricks her into launching an attack to steal the gem, which however shatters causing the Druuns to return. The only hope is to retrieve the relic fragments, and it will be up to Raya to do so. But in this enterprise she will not be alone: Raya manages to summon the funny Sisu dragon, the last dragon existing in Kumandra, who will morally guide her in this long and arduous journey.
La history of Raya and the last dragon blends the solemnity of the legends of Southeast Asia and the cinematic nature of the combat sequences, carrying on the narrative in a effective balance of seriousness and humor. The world is being destroyed more and more minute by minute, but Sisu is ready to tone down with his clumsy attempts to readjust to life in Kumandra; Raya and Namaari often clash, but the protagonist will meet several fun allies over the course of her adventures to recover the gem fragments. However, the wanderings of Raya are the main flaw of the feature film. Configuring itself as a road movie, with multiple and very specific objectives, the pace is very tight, leaving little room for the character and emotional exploration of the secondary characters. Additionally, the repetition of quests to retrieve the relics lends predictability to the narrative dynamics.
Speaking of the characters, in catalyze attention Raya, Namaari and Sisu take care of it, characters as different as they share very similar needs. Of Raya and Namaari we follow not only the journey in search of the fragments of the gem, but also the growth from childhood to adolescence, and from youth to adulthood, in which we discover how their personality has been forged by cultural background. Raya is there distrust made in person, a princess who struggles to sincerely trust anyone (and in hindsight, given the suffocating climate of competition and hostility), but also thealtruism in its purest essence; as he remembers co-director John Ripa, Raya is a set of dualisms, she is both princess and guardian, cheerful but wary, tough but vulnerable.
Namaari instead she is a princess ambitious and dutiful, perhaps too much. Is opposing Raya really what he wants deep down, or is hatred of other realms a social construct? In the words of the screenwriters Adele Lim and Qui Nguyen, Namaari is undoubtedly the character with a greater growth thanks to the continuous confrontation with Raya and the meeting with Sisu. The little dragon, on the other hand, is Raya's comic shoulder and the last dragon, but despite the funny situations she embodies a well-defined set of moral values and is capable of pulling the best out of princesses in times of need, with a phlegm. unexpected. It will be Sisu who will make both Raya and Namaari understand the importance of mutual trust, the thematic fil rouge of the whole film.
Trust others it is important for a life in society, even if it is difficult to trust a foreign people, especially when they present themselves in a very hostile way. In Raya and the Last Dragon these are the themes that carry on the narrative: on the one hand the confidence, understood not as an innate virtue but as one qualities to be developed with practical exercise; on the other, the international cooperation and why this is not always possible, explained in a way that even the little ones can understand. Why do wars break out? Could it be because someone is right and someone else is wrong? No, that's why we don't know ourselves well enough and what we don't know is frightening. And in a historical period where, despite globalization and nations are increasingly interconnected, conflicts still cannot be avoided, talking about trust and cultural integration is more necessary that never.
Moving on to the technical sector of Raya and the last dragon, there is "little" to say: Disney doesn't miss a beat. Delightful to see how finally the Southeast Asia, a little told area in mainstream cinema, has had its moment in the spotlight. When you think of the East, China and Japan immediately spring to mind in the collective imagination, but the world represented in Raya is the last dragon has nothing to envy their. The whole is underlined by a splendid colonna sonora, which is well suited to the contrast between dreamlike scenes and the more animated ones mentioned above, and - above all - from theanimation.
In fact, Disney shows us well in this feature film two different animation styles, the one shown in the trailer and one more verging on old-fashioned 2D, used wisely in the sequences in which events that happened in the past are remembered. In addition, to frame everything there is aexcellent direction, the result of the synergistic work of Don Hall and Carlos Lòpez Estrada, who guides and supports in an optimal way, especially in the numerous action sequences scattered throughout the film; a heartfelt and not obvious homage to oriental martial arts, without being taken for granted or ape.