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“Moana” Suggests Disney Animation’s Hot Streak Isn’t Cooling Off

The trailer teases a big-time adventure for the studio’s 56th feature.

“Moana” Suggests Disney Animation’s Hot Streak Isn’t Cooling Off

WHAT: The trailer for Moana, Disney Animation’s 56th feature (and second in 2016, after the winning Zootopia).

WHO: The Disney Animation team of Ron Clements and John Musker are in the director’s chair here, while the trailer focuses almost exclusively on the presence of 15-year-old Auli’i Cravalho in the title role and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the demigod Maui.

WHY WE CARE: The quality of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ films ebbs and flows, but we are in one heck of an “flow” period right now–over the last five years, the studio’s output has consisted of Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia, each of them creative triumphs that are at the head of the class for family films over that time. Hot streaks like that are hard to sustain, but if Disney falters, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen with Moana. The film not only puts the directing team that helmed 2D classics like The Little Mermaid and Aladdin in charge of their first 3D-animated feature, but it also taps the talents of America’s most likable superstar in The Rock, its hottest musical storyteller in Lin-Manuel Miranda (who co-wrote the songs for the movie), and an exciting new talent in Auli’i Cravalho. All of that comes in the service of a buddy-comedy adventure about a lost girl, a demigod, and something called “the Realm of Monsters.” What’s not to care about?

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.



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