Epic Disney adventure Moana drops on 2nd December and oh boy, does it look amazing. The film sees a plucky and fearless teenager, Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho), embark on an ancient and perilous quest across the Pacific Ocean using her skills as a wayfinder to discover a fabled mystical island.
On her quest she will need the help of demi-god Maui (voiced by Fast & Furious star Dwayne Johnson) – but don’t think that Moana will be taking a back seat and let a demi-god do all the heavy lifting – the film’s named Moana, not Maui after all. She will be needing all of her strength, wit, and determination to succeed and we know she will have what it takes.
Why? Because Moana looks to be the ideal modern Disney Princess. And no, we don’t mean she will be using a smartphone to find her way (the film is set about 2000 years ago, long before Google Maps was invented). We mean that Moana ticks all the boxes as to what it means to be the Princess for the modern age. Here's how...
No Prince needed!
For way too long now, Disney princesses have relied on a knight in shining armour to come to their aid – Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, we’re looking at you – rather than sorting their problems out for themselves. Moana has to travel across an ocean and fight lava monsters and you don’t hear her complaining do you? No prince also means no forced love interest plot, which in turn means that Moana is free to be herself and grow as a strong character all on her own!
A lot of previous Disney princesses are, well, dare we say it... boring? They put up with a terrible family life until something happens so they can get married and live their happily ever after without doing much of anything.
Although we haven’t seen much of Moana in action, the trailers show that she is funny and full of life. If we’re going to join someone on an adventure we want to enjoy our time with them. The back-and-forth we’ve seen with Moana and Maui paints a fantastic impression of chemistry between these characters . Besides who doesn’t want to see a little girl one up The Rock?
She isn't perfect!
Not everybody is going to have the idealistic, delicate, quintessentially princess look established by the likes of Snow White. Also: poisoned apples don’t count as a problem – we checked.
Moana isn’t perfect. She isn’t poised, she doesn’t live in a palace, and nor is she a delicate flower needed to be escorted by Maui; she is human. Disney has realised for some time now that they can make their princesses more grounded – take for example Anna in Frozen who is pretty goofy and lacks poise a lot of the time. Like Anna, we want Moana to embrace her character faults and become defined as a unique character.
No tallest tower in sight
Can you think of a classic princess who's trapped somewhere? The answer: mostly all of them really. Princesses are often imprisoned in towers or kept indoors whilst being ruled over by a wicked queen until a hero comes and saves her after she sings a few sad songs.
Not Moana. She isn’t trapped in the tallest tower or hidden away from the world. She is the exact opposite: she is heading out into the world to become her own hero of her own story! No longer should Disney princesses be victims who are dependent on the heroism of others. The modern Disney heroine is her own hero, and we cannot wait to see Moana save the day like the hero she is.
She's got practical powers
No Disney princess is complete without her own trademark ability. Whether it’s getting wildlife to do your housework, ice powers, or a master marksman with a bow, Disney princesses often have a certain magical ability that can help them on their journey.
For Moana this comes in the form of her wayfinder abilities and her connection to the ocean. When you’re sailing across the ocean for an extended period of time battling ancient monsters, it’s good to know that the ocean is on your side – even if you also have a demi-god on your side too!
She's all about family and friendship
Since we have said farewell to the bland Disney prince, Moana is left with a lot of space to focus on relationships that matter: family and friends. We can assume that family relationships are going to be a major theme of the film as Moana embarks on her quest to prove herself to her ancestors, ultimately saving her family from impending evil forces.
Moana will also be joined by Maui and an adorable pig and chicken who will act as her close companions and friends on her adventure. These relationships are important because they represent real everyday situations we all face – family and friends we mean, not giant lava monsters – instead of fantasies of becoming royalty.
Moana is down to earth (well, water) who is relatable, likeable, and will be an important role model to young audiences. There is no doubt in our mind that it's going to be the next greatest Disney adventure we have all been waiting for. Just look at the animation, it is gorgeous. But every true film fanatic will tell you that a great film is founded on its character depth rather than its animation. Thankfully Moana looks like it will be giving film lovers both!
Be sure to experience Moana on the big-screen at Cineworld with all of your friends and family when it's released on 2nd December. If you've got your own reasons as to why Moana is the perfect modern day Disney princess, tweet them to us @Cineworld.
Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.