“Raya and the Last Dragon”

Directed by: Carlos López Estrada, Don Hall

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1:57 

“Raya and the Last Dragon” is Disney’s latest cinematic adventure via streaming era.

Starring voices of Awkwafina, Kelly Marie Tran and Gemma Chan, “Raya and the Last Dragon” is your typical family-friendly Disney animation film. 

This one feels more like a Pixar film, despite it being a Disney standalone animated film. Audiences can expect the thrills of fantasy world building alongside the one of a kind characters that only Disney and Pixar can offer in the realm of animated cinema. Pixar has always been known to produce the more creative, out-of-the-box animated features while Disney produced animated features tend to play it safe. “Raya” does everything but play it safe, which is what makes it a refreshing addition to the Disney collection of films despite it not being as entertaining as most Pixar and even Disney films. 

I’ll get to that in a minute.

The narrative takes place in a fantasy world called Kumandra, where humans and dragons have coexisted since the beginning of time. However, when ominous monsters the land 500 years ago, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. It is up to a young warrior named Raya to save the last dragon to exist and stop monsters from taking over again. Hence the title: Raya and the Last Dragon. 

Although the plot is extremely creative and fun to begin with, it became more and more complex as the film went on, resulting in the film turning into more of a snooze-fest versus an action-packed feature. Yes, the animation was impressive but when you compare the film to other Disney animated features like “Moana” (2016) for example, you will find that “Raya” lacks the entertainment value and mass connection between the story and the audience. In other words, “Moana” gave audiences lots of laughs, amazing animation, and a great, touching storyline making it appeal to different types of audiences whereas I can only imagine that the majority of people who enjoyed this film were likely to be older than Disney’s intended audience. 

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a generous 94% score and it makes me wonder if the majority of critics are judging the film on its technical, creative aspects versus the film’s overall intentions. While the movie is different and again, is an absolute vision to watch with its various visual effects, it never once gave me a feeling of satisfaction like so many other animated films have. It was just OK, which is never a good thing. I would have rather it been an atrocious film versus the overly analytical, boring film that it unfortunately is. If you are trying to entertain a restless child with the film, I think it would do the trick, but it will not be easy for them to comprehend past a little dragon action, nor will it be memorable. I give the film an 8.5 out of 10 visually, but a 2 out of 10 in terms of entertainment value. Not even the recognizable, delightful voice of Awkwafina could save this movie for me. But hey, it is at least a thousand times better than “Tom and Jerry” if you must spend your money on streaming mediocre PG-rated films. 

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