The latest animated film from Disney, Raya and the Last Dragon, releases in theaters and Disney+ (with Premier Access in most Disney+ markets) this Friday, March 5. So how does it rank among Disney’s other animated films of late? For this girl, it’s at the top of that list.
Raya and the Last Dragon takes audiences on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned, and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.
Check out the trailer below.
Raya and the Last Dragon: What I Liked and Didn’t Like
My favorite thing about this film is Awkwafina’s voice performance as Sisu. I continue to love every movie that Awkwafina is a part of, and Raya and the Last Dragon is no exception.
In addition to Awkwafina, all of the film’s voice performances do an outstanding job, including Kelly Marie Tran, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Soong, Patti Harrison, and Ross Butler.
The animation is stunning, the script is solid, the humor can be appreciated by all ages, and the characters are ever-so loveable. There’s not much to criticize here, but there is one thing worth noting. The film presents the concept that we all have to work together and trust one another to make progress and change the world for the better. And while this notion is certainly true, blindly trusting others to do the right thing (as encouraged by Sisu in the film) isn’t necessarily the brightest idea. As much as we’d all like to think that people will do the right thing when presented with a choice, that’s not realistic. The film tries to simplify this idea in a way that felt almost irresponsible to me.
There’s a much larger conversation here to be had. But in the same sense that we grew up being told not to take candy from strangers, we can’t teach our kids just to trust everyone. It’s just not that simple. Trust has to be earned.
Lastly, I also want to give a small nod to the animated short, Us Again, that will screen ahead of Raya and the Last Dragon in theaters. The short, which will be available on Disney+ in June 2021, tells the story of an older man and his still young-at-heart wife who rekindle their passion for life and dance on a rather magical rainy evening. In true Disney short fashion, it will pull on adults’ heartstrings while the kids watching will be merely be smiling at the upbeat vibes and fast-paced scenes. The short is worth checking out, so don’t skip over it.
Overall, Raya and the Last Dragon is another solid and stunning animated masterpiece for Disney. And while it may present concepts that are well-intentioned, watching it with a child will likely prompt a follow-up conversation about not blindly trusting that people are good at heart. That aside, this is just the spring movie your Disney-loving heart has been yearning for.
Raya and the Last Dragon Review