As a single father that has to put up with the likes of Peppa Pig and the worst YouTube videos known to man, I always get excited when Disney puts out a high-quality movie to watch with them. Raya And The Last Dragon is a refreshing breath of fresh air for any parent in similar shoes. Every time I get to hear my children laugh in a movie and they behave through the whole thing I call it a win. Beyond the very low bar to climb for children’s entertainment, it’s actually a really good movie! Even my three-year-old son sat through the whole thing!
The Plot and Characters
Raya And The Last Dragon, is a wholly original fantasy picture. It of course draws inspiration from Southeast Asian culture, as well as pop-culture like Indiana Jones. The Story Follows Raya, on her quest to find Sisu, the last dragon, to try and save the world from the Druun. Along the way, she must learn to trust people of different backgrounds so that together they can succeed. This movie has a lot of incredibly relevant themes for the time we live it.
The characters are all really well fleshed out, and I never really felt that anyone was particularly out of character. It’s a fantasy movie so there are some things that you are expected to just accept. You know, dragons, magic, ninja babies, etc… There is one character that felt very much like a blatant rip-off of the MCU’s Drax the Destroyer. However, since it’s all owned by Disney I suppose they can do what they want. The character is entertaining, but some of the jokes fell flat. He also just doesn’t feel as natural as Drax does.
There are of course nitpicks that could be made, but when you just sit back and take it as a whole, the movie works quite well overall. I really enjoyed seeing a good take on Asian dragons, vs the Scandinavian/Celtic versions we are so accustomed to. Which I think is good for bringing more cultural diversity to families. That’s kind of the big theme of the movie. Learning to trust, respect, and cherish people of all backgrounds and cultures and work together as friends and allies to bring about a better world. I just barely took my kids to watch this, but my son is already asking questions about these new magic dragons without wings.
The animation is of course stunning. They do a fantastic job at creating beautiful landscapes and aesthetics that really bring the story to life. The magical powers showcased by the dragons were a nice touch, as opposed to the generic firebreathing type. The film offers little else when it comes to fantasy creatures. But I suppose not everything has to compete with James Cameron’s Avatar for unique world-building. Even though this movie has a very happy ending, it is not afraid to go dark. The final sacrifice in the end really worked for me.
Raya And The Last Dragon: Our Score
All in all, I really enjoyed this movie. I expected to be fine with it, as I so often am with Disney animation. But I would actually put this one up there with the likes of Big Hero 6 and Zootopia. It’s not a perfect movie, but it has a great balance of action, character, humor, and heart. Top that with an incredibly relevant theme that we could all internalize a little bit and I’d say this movie has earned an 8 out of 10! Have you guys seen the movie? What do you guys think? Feel free to talk spoilers in the comments!
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