Raya and the Last Dragon: Movie Review

As a Disney animated film, "Raya and the Last Dragon" has all the beats and thrills that audiences expect from such a release. It delivered as expected but provided nothing special in return. It was enjoyable but a little bit too generic and familiar at times. It was mixed but in fact, highly-recommendable.
The land of Kumandra in ancient times was one big land and had humans and dragons living peacefully. But one day, malevolent forces called Druuns arrive and in the wake consume every living thing and turning everything it touches into stone. The dragons sacrifice themselves to save Kumandra and its inhabitants. What is left of their sacrifice is a magical orb and a myth that Sisu, the last dragon, is still alive at the outer reaches of Kumandra. The once united humans also separate into five clans - each fighting for the orb. But when the orb is accidentally broken, Druuns return to once again consume Kumandra. It is up to Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) to find the last remaining dragon Sisu (Awkwafina) and save all of Kumandra from certain stonely doom. 
Like films before it, there's a certain formula that audiences anticipate from a Disney film. "Raya and the Last Dragon" doesn't attempt to break that formula mostly. The setting (this time Southeast Asian themed) and the looks of characters have changed but the narrative core and elements within it will be all-too-familiar. This isn't as bad as it may sound as the formula has proven to be effective time and time again and in fact, we found ourselves thrilled by the whole experience. For "Raya and the Last Dragon", the biggest surprise for us would be the lack of any romantic interest. From the creatures, to side characters, to the main players within the film, there is a strong emphasis on women empowerment, family, and even friendship but not even a hint of romantic love - which is a breath of fresh air.  The visuals, soundtrack and even choreography were definitely the biggest treat the film could offer. Some scenes looked strikingly real to the point that we actually forgot that we were watching an animated film. Additionally, Southeast Asians would definitely appreciate the region-specific themes and soundtrack but the film had a lot of countries and cultures to cover so there is also a sense of broadness that some may find confounding from time to time. It definitely tries to compact a lot of stuff but it won't specifically point to one culture or country at all. Overall, "Raya and the Last Dragon" is a very solid offering from Disney. It definitely proves that Raya, as a character, is worthy to be helmed as a Disney Princess not only with her unique background but as a strong-willed, smart, loving woman.
Rating 4 reels

Why you should watch it:
- the narrative focuses on family, friendship and even woman empowerment
- the visuals and sountrack are amazing

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- feels a little bit generic from time to time
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