It’s hard not to compare eras of Disney movies. With adaptations of existing stores in the pre-90s, to hand drawn original ones in the 90s and ahead, until we reach the current age of computer animation. Each era has had it’s standouts and while we might love our Wall-E it’s hard not to want a Treasure Planet when you get a Cars 2. So where does the latest Disney Animation feature, Raya and the Last Dragon stand?
First we need to go back, way back. Over 500 years ago before the dystopian landscape of Kumandra when dragons and humans roamed. A plague/purple cloud things spread across the land turning living creatures to stone. It wasn’t until the last of the Dragons infused their magic into a Dragon Gem that the plague clouds were pushed out and all the humans were restored (but not the Dragons. Then, for 500 years the 5 nations of Kumandra – Tail, Talon, Spine, Fang and Heart; lived in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire, umm, Fang nation attacked.
Ok yes, so the latest film from Pixar does definitely take some Avatar and the Last Airbender like inspiration but that is definitely in it’s favour as we journey with Raya, the Guardian of the Dragon Gem and her bear/dog/giant pill bug across the nations wielding her very cool extending sword that fans of Heavenly Sword may also love. Falling solidly in the adventure camp of story telling there is enough of Raya to go around with elements of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Avatar and even a tiny bit of Mandalorian/Samurai shining through.
Releasing on both the small screen through premium access on Disney+ (like Mulan before it) and in cinemas across Australia you have a few choices to see but if you have the opportunity to go check this out on a big screen safely (and support your local cinemas) then you should absolutely do it to soak in the beautiful varied scenery across Kumandra as well as the action set pieces from Tomb Raiding to extending sword showdowns. Basically, this is one of those ones where the last trailer you might have seen for this was a little misleading.
This is definitely some of the finest animation we have seen from Disney Animation/Pixar but one of the best stories we have had in a while too, we would put this on par with The Incredibles or Atlantis the Lost Civilisation without a doubt. Not a short film clocking in at just short of 2 hours with a small Pixar feature short just before the film called ‘Us Again’ and again with trailers before – you may want to check your drink sizes else finding yourself rushing for a break at an inopportune time as there are no real good run to pee times with the story continually building. While we think this is the perfect length and way to tell this story we could very well see it in another light stretched out to fill two films.
So should you go see it? Yes, absolutely. Not just because it is one of the first big budget films that has come to the cinemas this year after a very long break but because it is actually a REALLY good Disney adventure film. While it is very hard to tell standing this close we feel that given some distance this might actually fall into one of our top 10 Disney films of all time, Or atleast of the modern age.
Raya and the Last Dragon is in cinemas across Australia now with Disney+ Premium Access to watch at home available from March 5th