On Friday Disney will release their latest animated feature and an accompanying theatrical short in both theaters and on Disney+ with Premiere Access.
“Us Again” is a musical journey through Chicago that explores how music can make us young again. The visuals are spectacular and the music is superb. Every element comes together to create a wholistic short that is sure to delight viewers young and old, but it’s not the main attraction, “Raya and the Last Dragon” is.
For me, “Raya” is a mixed bag, on one hand, I adored the visuals and the choreography of the fight scenes, which are a love letter to South East Asia and martial arts respectively.
I can not praise the visuals enough, and for animation fans to they will make the movie, but audience members who aren’t astute fans of the art form might find the plot to be less emotionally compelling than it could be.
The themes were on point and the story had all the elements of a classic Disney animated movie, but somehow the movie just didn’t quite stick the emotional landing for me. That’s not to say that the movie isn’t enjoyable, because it absolutely is, but I was hoping that the movie would explore the timely theme of a divided nation more than it did.
The idea that Kumandra is a nation divided speaks to our time but was mostly relegated to background noise and was just used an an impetus for the events of the movie, and that’s a shame, because Disney movies can hold up a mirror to ourselves and our world and allow us to see things in different ways and empathize with people who are unlike ourselves. But maybe that’s just my political and policy background coming through, and a desire to consume content that has deep insight into our current national situation.
That having been said, I think families, especially families of South East Asian descent will find the movie to be a fun ride that highlights the culture of an underrepresented region of our world and perhaps that’s enough.
Stay tuned for an extended review and discussion on our podcast, Magic Time by Monorail News.
Us Again: 9/10
Raya and The Last Dragon: 7.5/10