Raya And The Last Dragon is in theaters and on Disney+ via Premier Access
Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, which tiptoed into theaters over the weekend and simultaneously debuted on Disney+ for an additional fee, is a gorgeous adventure that keeps the audience invested for its entire runtime. The animation itself is absolutely stunning and leaves one curious as to how the technology can improve from this point forward.
Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) lives in the fantasy world of Kumandra, a land where humans and dragons once lived together in harmony. When a menacing plague known as the Druun threatened to turn all of the humans and dragons to stone, the dragons sacrificed themselves in order to save the humans. Now, 500 years later, the Druun have returned and Raya takes it upon herself to search for the rumored last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), in an attempt to save the world and unite the feuding clans of Kumandra.
The world of Kumandra is separated into five regions named for the parts of a dragon: Heart, Fang, Spine, Talon, and Tail.
Each of these different regions and the clans that inhabit them is expertly crafted and differentiated from one another. While the pacing of the film is excellent and keeps the audience moving along, one can’t help but wish to spend more time in each of these locales and experience what other intricacies they have to offer.
The supporting characters, voiced by the likes of Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, and more, bring so much life into this fantastical world. However, it’s Kelly Marie Tran’s Raya that keeps you invested. While Raya seems to have a genuine sense of caring, Tran also knows when to dial up the heroism in order to make Raya into a formidable warrior. Awkwafina is able to infuse her usual brand of comedy with a sense of innocence and wonder that makes Sisu an absolute joy to watch.
While aspects of the story could be lazily summed up as a fetch quest – moving from point to point in order to collect magical objects to complete the goal – the lore and world make the film interesting enough that you’re able to overlook it. Add James Newton Howard’s marvelous score to the mix and you have yourself an incredible adventure.
It’s unfortunate that many people will likely skip the trip to the theater in favor of Disney+ Premier Access, understandably so, seeing as we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. But the gorgeous landscapes, beautiful animation, and compelling characters in Raya and the Last Dragon are worthy of the big screen, but only if it’s safe to do so.
Final Rating: 8/10
Watch on Disney+
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