Review: Raya and the Last Dragon, an unwavering film

The first original feature film since Vaïana, Kingdom and the Last Dragon is based on a new Disney recipe. Big-eared companies are abandoning musical adventures in favor of action-packed epics and epics. Will Raya and the Last Dragon fly to the top?

Disney reinvented itself and now prefers epic epics over musical adventures. In the tradition of En Avant, Kingdom and the Last Dragon is based on a fairly simple recipe: action, a dazzling (if not sung) universe and humor. In the fictional kingdom of Kumandra, humans and dragons once lived in harmony. But one day, an evil force descended upon the villages and the dragons sacrificed themselves to save mankind. Raya must go in search of the last of them in hopes of saving the world from chaos.

With this feature film, Disney is placing its suitcase in territory the studio has never explored before. The authors take us to a fictional universe, inspired by Southeast Asia. During the conference, the creative team shared that they had made several trips to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam to absorb the culture. Obviously, this will be a huge hit as the film benefits from its rare visual richness.

On screen, the writers and directors have taken crazy bets to bring more than 5 different universes into the picture, each with their own code and graphic identity. This is a gigantic job that has been slaughtered, when the world closed its doors in 2020 because of the coronavirus. From a distance, the creative team has delivered a gripping epic. From the desert plains of Dragon’s Tail, to the floating city of Dragon’s Claw through the snowy lands of Dragon’s Back, the scenery is beautiful and very successful. Sometimes, Kingdom and the Last Dragon bet on hooking up some animation style during a flashback or annotation sequence and the outcome is up to the challenge.

The road to Disney+ is not without pitfalls for Kingdom and the final dragon. Released in 2016 under the supervision of Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins, the film was completely revised just months before its release. The two directors gave way to Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada, who then had a mission to include a screenplay signed by Adele Lim. The people who mainly work on Crazy Rich Asian have decided to fully review the plot to focus on the myths and legends of the Southeast Asian region. Despite all his adventures, Raya and the last dragon seem to have found their way.

Between action comedies and the more classic animated films, he managed to rediscover the recipe for success at Disney. Halfway between Rapunzel and Atlantis, the Lost Empire, this film is sensitive, funny in some ways, and incredibly effective. The plot, which is based on the search for mystical objects, oscillates between pure and violent action scenes and more deleted moments. With the plot, Raya and the last dragon are in harmony with the situation of the world. The message is about more general beliefs and expectations about goals. Better yet, this film will manage to make us sketch a few smiles at times. After an effective, well-run and ingenious first part, the feature film offers no conclusion to the challenge. In its final minutes, the scenario gets a little tangled. With a fairly predictable scriptwriting spring, this film won’t manage to offer us any of the big hype it’s announced.

However, we regret that the company has abandoned the idea of ​​a musical adventure, even if we understand why it didn’t fit the tone of the film. Disney was unrivaled when it came to setting the adventures of its characters to music, but now it needs to do without it. Nevertheless, the film benefits from an effective score. Signed by James Newton Howard, the original music aptly underlines the action and adds a whole new dimension to the film. But either way, with James Newton Howard, we’re rarely disappointed. Remember, it’s to him that we owe the themes of The Fantastic Beasts, Batman Begins (with Hans Zimmer) but also the Nutcracker and the four kingdoms.