“Raya and the Last Dragon” was released in 2021 along with “Luca” & “Encanto.” It received positive reviews from critics and movie goers alike. All three are nominated for “Best Animated Film” at the 94th Academy Awards. Before the upcoming awards ceremony airs on March 27, 2022, I wanna share my thoughts on Raya and the Last Dragon.
Today’s review contains no SPOILERS. I’m giving some of you a chance to see Raya and the Last Dragon. Is it one of the best films of 2021? Let’s find out, shall we?
Flow & Clogged Aspects
Flow: Kelly Marie Tran & Awkwafina (one of my favorite actresses) both did an excellent job for their respective voiceover performances.
Other Cast Members such as Gemma Chan, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Daniel Dae Kim & Alan Tudyk all did a great job for their respective voiceover performances.
Don Hall (Big Hero 6) & Carlos Lopez Estrada (Blindspotting) both did a great job directing.
Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It-Ralph, Frozen, Frozen II) served as an executive producer. Making sure everything’s according to plan.
Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians) & Qui Nguyen the script together.
Animation is filled with immersive computer imagery bringing character models, environmental locations, fluid movement, lighting and a unique world to life.
Action Sequences reminded me of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” I’m talking about the actual animated show, not M. Night Shyamalan’s Razzie winning stinker.
Humor has some legit laugh out loud moments. Particularly Awkwafina’s performance as Sisu. She gets Bonus Points for making me laugh. Some of her lines were improvised.
Fun Fact: Awkwafina was also in a film involving dragons. Don’t forget “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings.” By the way, Benedict Wong is in Shang-Chi.
James Newton Howard (Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The Dark Knight, The Hunger Games Trilogy) orchestrated the music.
Chemistry between Raya & Sisu serves as the main highlight. During their journey, they also make friends with interesting pasts. The live action animated hybrid “Tom and Jerry” pales in comparison to the former duo.
A fart scene got me crackin’ up. Fart jokes never get old.
Primary Themes are Trust, Loss, Friendship, Teamwork & Forgiveness. Each one is handled maturely.
Pacing felt normal for an hour-and-a-half animated film. I never felt miserably bored. I was entertained.
Character Development involving Raya. As the story progresses, she accepts trust from her new friends. Kelly Marie Tran deserves respect, not hostility towards her role as Rose Tico from Star Wars’ Sequel Trilogy. Unlike Rose, Raya is not an incompetent moron, she’s a risk taker willing to complete her mission to defeat The Drunn and restore Kumandra’s nation.
Opening Scene establishes the lore set in a continent divided into five nations who want control of a powerful gem created by Sisu and her family of dragons. Raya’s backstory also establishes she’s a fearless warrior.
Raya’s rival, Namarri factors in. Prior to the events of the film, she used to be good friends with Raya.
As the story progresses, Sisu acquires powers.
Boun’s name is a referenced to the sports meme, “Boom Goes the Dynamite.”
I won’t give away The Ending. You’ll have to see for yourself.
Clogged: I couldn’t spot anything wrong. I’m giving The Cast & Crew an Extra Point for making a flawless animated film as possible.
Unlike most Disney films, there’s no forced romance or a temporary break-up. I’m also relived an annoying song like “Let It Go” or anything by Phil Collins is not added. Sorry folks, I didn’t like You’ll Be in My Heart” from “Tarzan.”
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Raya and the Last Dragon is one of the best Disney films in recent years. I’ve yet to see Luca & Encanto. So far, I consider the former as my favorite animated film of 2021 as well as one of my favorite films of the past year. If you haven’t got a chance to see Raya and the Last Dragon, stream it on Disney Plus with kids.