Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Movie Review

Moana also known as “Vaiana,” “Моана,” “Moana - Um Mar de Aventuras,” “Moana: Un mar de aventuras,” “Oceana,” “Oceania,” “Vaiana - Das Paradies hat einen Haken,” “Vaiana, la Légende du Bout du Monde,” “Vaiana: Iskanje bajeslovnega otoka,” “Vaiana: Skarb oceanu,” “Vajana”

MPAA Rating: PG for peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Genre:
Animation Adventure Family Comedy 3D
Length:
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
2016
USA Release:
November 23, 2016 (wide—3,875 theaters)
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Auli'i Cravalho … Moana (voice)
Dwayne “The Rock” JohnsonMaui, a Polynesian demigod (voice)
Jemaine Clement … Tamatoa (voice)
Alan Tudyk … Hei Hei the Rooster (voice)
Nicole Scherzinger … Sina (voice)
Temuera Morrison … Chief Tui (voice)
Phillipa Soo … Actress (voice)
Rachel House … Gramma Tala (voice)
Michael Sun Lee … Islander
Director: Ron Clements—“Aladdin” (1992), “The Princess and the Frog” (2009), “Treasure Planet” (2002)
John Muskern—“Aladdin” (1992), “The Princess and the Frog” (2009), “Treasure Planet” (2002)
Producer: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
John Lasseter
Osnat Shurer
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Sailing the ocean blue may be a dream for many, but I doubt anyone could top little Moana’s aspirations to explore the sea. Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) lives on the island of Montunui, which is ruled by her loving, yet overprotective father, Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison). Life is pretty great, that is, until the tides begin to turn on their beautiful island and their lush resources begin to gradually whither away. There is a reason for this, though. And oh boy, is it a big one. A great disruption in nature came to the land when a power hungry demigod by the name of Maui (Dwayne Johnson) decided to steal the “heart” of the mighty goddess and mother island, Te Fiti. Since then, the world has never been the same. Ever since she was a little girl, Moana was “chosen” by the ocean to return the heart to Te Fiti and restore peace to the mother land. And after years went by, the time finally came to fulfill her calling.

Moana’s task seems pretty simple: find Maui and return the heart. But little does Moana know of the great obstacles she will face as she embarks on an epic quest in one of Disney Animation’s most ambitious projects yet.

“Moana” is a film filled with gorgeous, top of the line animation, beautiful music, and lush scenery. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker do a solid job at directing this wonderfully animated film, and the voice talents are spot-on. The story, just like a stormy ocean itself, feels a bit choppy at times and some scenes near the center of the film feel a tad ridiculous and middling. Some pieces of the film appear to be slightly drawn out to eat up some time. Still, though, the beautiful animation, intriguing story, and fantastic music certainly outweigh some of these small inconsistencies in the story.

There is next to no sexual content, as the closest here is seeing shirtless men and characters wearing skirts with a bare midriff. There is no language to be concerned about, as we only here one unfinished phrase of “You lying son of a…” and a reference to somebody’s butt cheek. A character says “Oh shhh—ark head.”

Our heroes find themselves in many perilous situations as they travel the ocean and battle various foes. The violence flows from mild to moderate, as one character drowns off-screen, others nearly drown, waves crash down on numbers of characters, storms rage, and little coconut pirates battle Moana and Maui with various weapons and blow darts. Maui gets hit in the rear with a blow dart and appears to be partially tranquilized and paralyzed. A couple of other intense scenes involve a large lava monster the duo have to battle. It spews fire and lava, and, on three separate occasions, it loses a hand, as Maui slices it off with his magic hook. There are a couple of violent references, including death and human sacrifice, and we see some pretty scary creatures, including bats with multiple eyes, sea monsters with many arms, and a giant crab they battle. Maui mentions that he once ripped a monster’s leg off. A character gets punched in the face and hit in the head with an oar and another is seen getting a painful tattoo.

The violence really isn’t what parents and family audiences should be concerned about, though. “Moana” treads into some dark, murky waters with its darker themes of magic and mythology. More and more, I tend to see a reoccurring pattern of darker spiritual themes marching into children’s films, and “Moana” is no exception. The film starts out with a voiceover stating, “In the beginning there were only oceans”: an immediate nod to Evolution and false-creation. Maui believes he and other gods have the power to create just about anything. The film continues with some dark references and images of mythology, including an image of “the demon of earth and fire.” Stories of dark magic are shared with little children, and we see Maui turn into many different types of animals, including birds, whales, and sharks.

Reincarnation is mentioned and implied, after one character passes away. The character tells her granddaughter, “There is nowhere you can go where I won’t be with you.” This scene may bother younger viewers, as we see the character laying on her deathbed. We later see the character’s spirit communicate with another character, and it is implied she is reincarnated as a stingray. Moana frequently “speaks” to the ocean, and Maui believes that the heart of Te Fiti has the power to create life itself. Maui “communicates” with his many tattoos, as they perform various acts and gestures. Maui and Moana both later bow to a goddess. On a side note, Moana is a bit rebellious and deliberately disobeys her father after he tells her not to go beyond the ocean reef.

“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” —Leviticus 19:31 (ESV)

“Moana” may appear to be another “innocent” animated fantasy/action family film. But when you look a little more closely, it is a film that revolves around some pretty dark magic and borders along the of line occult. The lava monster, in particular, nearly serves as a form of demonic character, as it heaves flames at Moana and Maui. It may just appear as a mythological god in the film, but, when looked at more closely, I believe it serves as more of a demonic symbol than something simply pulled out of a fairy tale. Some parents may be concerned about multiple characters wearing tattoos all over their bodies. Maui brags about how he “earns” tattoos from doing great deeds. There is also some light toilet humor as Moana yells at the ocean, “Fish pee in you all day,” and it is also implied that Maui urinates in the ocean (nothing is seen).

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. —2 Timothy 1:7

“Moana” certainly has its strong points, though, as friendships are cherished, loyalty and self-sacrifice are applauded, the importance of family is shared, and the strong message of faith and courage come into play. Moana is certainly a persistent character, who does not give up very easily. The message of believing in yourself is huge in this film, but this could also give some audiences mixed feelings. We need faith more than anything. We should not be believing in ourselves, but solely on God. As John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Proverbs 28:26 also shares, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” And, of course, this proverb means godly wisdom; wisdom from the one true God.

Throughout the entire film, we see many characters put their faith in the wrong things: false gods, magic, and other human beings. One thing is for certain, though, they do not lack faith, character, or courage. One other positive message that is shared in the film is that greed and pride lead to destruction. We need each other. And this is a huge ongoing theme in “Moana.”

“…to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” —Acts 26:18

“Moana” is a relatively clean film. But, as I mentioned above, the most problematic content here is the use and display of dark magic, portrayals of mythology, and the main characters placing their faith and hope in not only themselves but false gods. A character shares a story about how he was left by his family as a baby and found by the gods. Followers of Christ may find a solid parallel to this story, though. We can be reassured, whenever we may feel lost, all we need to do is seek God out and He will find us and embrace us with His tender loving care. When we find God, He also finds us.

“Moana” is also a film about self-discovery and finding who you really are. John 1:12 shares, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” There is also a great message of defining who you are. It isn’t Maui’s magic hook that defines him as a person and great demigod. It is his character that defines him.

While “Moana” may be filled with plenty of positive messages, the content for concern (for family audiences anyway) slightly outweighs these great messages. I still give “Moana” a cautionary recommendation, as it will most likely be one of the safest options at the cinema this holiday season. But please take great caution before considering viewing this film, especially with younger children. Not only is the dark spirituality a concern, but some of the monsters shown are just downright too scary for the little ones. “Moana” may appear to be an innocent, homemade magical adventure from the studio that brought us “Frozen.” But, just like “Frozen,” it isn’t all that innocent. “Moana” still has its dark roots, moments of intense action/peril, and some questionable themes, just like many of its predecessors.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” —Romans 12:2

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I took my 4 and a half year old and my 10 year old to this movie, and they both really enjoyed it, but so did I! It’s good for kids and adults. Unlike the reviewer, I did not see any “occult” themes in the film. If “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty” came out today, this reviewer would have found occult themes in those as well! Then should movies stop having scary monsters or villains—evil creatures which the protagonists defeat? No, I say not. I loved the movie. Visually, it was beautiful; story wise and in every other respect, it was bright, funny, and appealing. The characters are good and courageous, not failing to do what’s right in the end. Is this not a Christian theme? I enjoyed it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Emily R., age 41 (Canada)
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed “Moana,” it has all the qualities of a good Disney movies. Great songs (“How Far I’ll Go” and “We Know the Way” stand out in particular), fun and memorable characters, a very fun story, and spectacular animation (Disney’s most breathtaking animation to date). I didn’t find it to be quite as great as “Frozen” or the superb “Tangled,” but it’s still a fun time at the movies.

There are a few positive messages in the movie about courage, perseverance, and sacrifice. Parents should know (there is also some cartoony slapstick and brief toilet humor) this is one of the “darker” Disney movies, with Polynesian religion shown throughout. The beginning of the movie is a story showing their ideas about “creation,” and it is revealed to just be a story told to a bunch of children. Reincarnation is hinted at a couple of times. And need I mention a shape-shifting “demigod” and a “lava monster” both play major roles here. However, none of these deities or myths discussed are shown to be worshiped at all in the film (Maui’s brief moment or two with cheering fans is much more “celebrity paparazzi” than anything else), and we don’t see religious rituals really of any sort. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Blake, age 22 (USA)
Positive—I disagree with the reviewer that this movie is “occult”—in fact, I think that the “occult” diagnosis paints the movie in an unnecessarily negative light, and shows a lack of understanding about Polynesian culture and mythology. There is plenty of mythology in this movie, don’t get me wrong—if you’re very offended by hearing references to gods and demigods, then put this one on the backburner.

But Moana’s positive themes outshine everything else: Empathy, building friendships, bravery and standing up for oneself (or one’s beliefs). Moana has a deep, respectful relationship with her grandmother (rare in children’s films—rare in most films, really), and there’s even a brief “adoption” reference that explores themes of being “worthy” of love because of who you are, not what you do. An empowering, gorgeous film for kids and adults alike.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chelsea, age 27 (USA)
Negative
Negative—This movie is so filled with occult themes that it is impossible for me to give it a good “moral” rating, regardless of the good qualities the characters display. The characters, of course, are likable, and, at the end, things work out, but, in the biblical sense, the film is offensive to God. No pun intended, but from the beginning, they take the first verse in the Bible “In the beginning…” and from there everything is twisted. The most blatant offense to God is the worshiping of the goddess “mother nature”.

As far as entertainment, this movie is simply breathtaking. The effects and animation, the colors, the humor all comes together for an entertaining feast. Just be prepared to explain to your children that this is in fact an anti-God movie and don’t look the other way saying that it shows biblical values, when, in fact, it insults the most important of all biblical values.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Angel, age 51 (USA)
Negative—I happened to be invited to this movie. This movie is filled with episodes of occultic nature. This is a typical scenario to brainwash our children into following false values. Believing in yourself, reincarnation, communication with spirits, false gods and nature worship are portrayed throughout the film.

The movie had a really good animation and storyline. I wish there was a movie with good moral story just like in old days.

Particular emphasis shall be made on communication with spirits. These spirits are not friendly spirits just like they are portrayed in the movie. Coming out of New Age occult, I can confirm that there are real demons behind the spirits that will manifest some day when a child starts calling on it to come. These kind of movies are particularly good in achieving its purpose of convincing little spectators and people with little or no discernment. One has to be born again in order to see the kingdom of God. Once we are born again, we get a special set of “spiritual eyes”. God truly reveals all hidden things behind what looks like innocent kids movie. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Olga, age 36 (USA)
Comments from young people

none

Sorry, no other viewer comments received yet. If you have seen this movie, PLEASE share your observations and insights with others to be posted here. GO