Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. However, when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned, and it’s up to a lone warrior to track down the last dragon and stop the Druun for good. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “In terms of world-building, Raya and the Last Dragon is probably one of Disney’s best. This animated film has a fascinating setting and mythology; however the story falters a little… Raya and the Last Dragon feels a lot more dramatic and serious in tone than most other Disney films. On the one hand, I really enjoy this as I believe we need more serious kids’ movies.” See her full review below.
Raya And The Last Dragon
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17
In terms of world-building, Raya and the Last Dragon is probably one of Disney’s best. This animated film has a fascinating setting and mythology; however the story falters a little.<p>This film takes place in Kumandra, a world comprising five divided nations. When an evil force known as The Druun sends Kumandra into a state of despair, Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) sets out on a journey to find the last dragon, and defeat The Druun for good.First, the animation in this film is strong and very realistic; perhaps a little too realistic to the point where some shots look like photographs. This might be a pet peeve of mine, because I don’t like ultra-realistic animation. Sure, it is impressive, technologically speaking, but I find stylized animation to be much more striking and memorable. Aside from that, it’s very beautiful. I really like the colors, and how each location is so visually distinct.
Raya and the Last Dragon feels a lot more dramatic and serious in tone than most other Disney films. On the one hand, I really enjoy this as I believe we need more serious kids’ movies. However, I’m assuming the producers were concerned about this film being “too dark for kids” because there is a lot of really unfunny comedy in the beginning. This comedy mostly comes from Sisu (Awkwafina), the last dragon. And while I’m usually a fan of Awkwafina and her comedic timing, she’s just not given any good material here. The jokes don’t fit with the setting or tone, and they really bog down Sisu’s first few scenes. Yet once the comedy slows down, she becomes a more dramatic character which I enjoyed.
I have a few concerns with the themes of Raya and the Last Dragon. The message that, instead of being divided, we need to come together and stand united is fine. However the execution of that message is a bit questionable. No spoilers, but let’s just say a certain character really deserved some repercussions for all the problems they caused. I do understand that the moral is that we should learn to trust each other, but I feel like that message is used as an excuse to not properly redeem a character.
I give Raya and The Last Dragon 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. It comes out on March 5, 2021 in theaters and on Disney+ with Premiere Access.