‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is not as mediocre as the average Disney film

Evan Heinz, Staff Writer

Almost like a manifestation, Disney released on March 5 a new Southeast Asian themed movie, “Raya and the Last Dragon”, preaching the importance of unity during these times of great division within the world.

In the film, the people of the fantasy world of Kumandra are against each other and cannot get along even when monstrous clouds threaten them all.

Raya, Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess, sets out on a mission to find a dragon to restore unity and trust between the people and destroy the invading monsters, but she finds out that dragon magic won’t be enough to get the people of Kumandra to trust each other.

The cast of the film are predominantly Asian Americans, including Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran), Sisu the Dragon (Awkwafina), the main villain Namaari (Gemma Chan), the mentor/father Chief Benja (Daniel Dae Kim), and Namaari’s mother, Virana (Sandra Oh).

Like all Disney films, the animation is slick and the backgrounds are vibrant and colorful. The painting-esque visuals are fantastic and the dragon’s mystical vibrance makes it stand out from the crowd.

Not only does the film have outstanding animation, but “Raya and the Last Dragon” also maintains an uplifting and child-friendly storyline with themes of peace.

The movie begins with the lead character, Raya, explaining how the dragons were eliminated after trying to defeat the evil force known as the Druun, a mindless plague that turns everyone it touches into stone. Sisu the Water Dragon managed to force them back but disappeared and left behind a beautiful gem. The dragons saved humanity, but rather than using the opportunity for peace, the humans fought for the dragon’s gem, dividing all of the realm.

In an attempt to get the gem away from Raya’s tribe, Namaari, the main villain, deceives Raya, furthering the divide between the tribes. The tribes fight over the gem and break it, releasing the Druun. While everyone was in awe of the Druun, the chiefs took a piece of the gem and ran off, leaving Chief Benja to be turned to stone.

With the freedom of the Druun, the world turns into a wasteland and eerie stone statues of victims of the Druun were scattered all over. Like a miracle, Raya finds Sisu in a shipwreck.

In order to stop the Druun, Raya and Sisu go on an adventure while escaping Namaari. Raya meets many wacky characters along the way, such as a young boy who runs a shrimp ship, three thieving monkeys, a con artist baby, and an old warrior who lost his tribe.

Because of the intriguing and fast-paced plot, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the movie. It’s not as bland as the same old princess story with a new coat of paint.

This refreshing film gives its viewers something new from Disney which is not seen from the company too often. Overall, the movie proved to be worth watching and kept me interested, exceeding my expectations.