‘Moana’ reviews: ‘A feast for the eyes,’ but also a timely political film?

Disney’s “Moana” opened on Wednesday, November 23, as one of the year’s most acclaimed animated films and a strong Oscar candidate for Best Animated Feature according to our latest racetrack odds. As of this writing it has scored a jaw-dropping 99% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. But is the brightly colored adventure fantasy featuring the voices of Dwayne Johnson and Auli’i Cravalho also the timely political film of the season?

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RogerEbert.com critic Christy Lemire makes the parallels between “Moana’s” story of the title 16-year-old girl who may become the first female chief of her tribe and still-unbroken glass ceiling of American politics following Hillary Clinton‘s electoral defeat in the 2016 presidential election. And the Los Angeles Times’s Justin Chang notes the film’s environmentalism and Polynesian cast, as well as the music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose Broadway musical “Hamilton” is back in the news after an eventful visit from Vice President-Elect Mike Pence.

But, of course, “Moana” aims to be a crowd-pleaser, and all signs point to success on that front as well. It’s “a feast for the eyes,” “enormously entertaining” and “a worthy successor to Disney’s most beloved animated classics.”

Dish ‘Moana’ with Hollywood insiders in our notorious forums

Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion in our forums.

Soren Andersen (Seattle Times): “‘Moana’ is a joy. A feast for the eyes. From Disney, it represents a pinnacle of CG animation … A delight for the ears. Songs by ‘Hamilton’s’ Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer Opetaia Foa‘i and Grammy-winner Mark Mancina are at a ‘Lion King’ level of excellence.”

Christy Lemire (RogerEbert.com): “‘Moana’ would have been enormously entertaining regardless of when it came out, but its arrival at this particular moment in history gives it an added sense of significance — as well as inspiration … Moana is on the verge of becoming the first female chief in the proud history of her Polynesian tribe, shattering the glass ceiling under spectacular blue skies. Imagine that.”

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Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times): “‘Moana,’ like most seemingly innocuous mainstream diversions, has its own undeniably political dimension. As both a gentle ecological parable and the first Disney cartoon showcase for a Polynesian cast since “Lilo & Stitch” (2002), it could scarcely be otherwise.”

Devan Coggan (Entertainment Weekly): “Not only does ‘Moana’ feel like a worthy successor to Disney’s most beloved animated classics, but it pushes the genre into 2016, introducing a smart, diverse, and convincing heroine who struggles against lava monsters and self-doubt.”

Predict the Oscar nominations now; change them till January 24

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “Moana” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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