Raya and the Last Dragon Review

Titles for Raya and the Last Dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon is a 2021 animated action-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios and stars the voices of Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina and Gemma Chan. Raya and the Last Dragon was released on March 5, 2021 and is currently only available to watch on Disney+ with Premier Access (costing £19.99).

Raya and the Last Dragon follows the story of Raya (no surprises there!), a courageous young warrior princess and her journey across the magical land of Kumandra. Kumandra has been rampaged by the evil Druun, dark spirits that turn people to stone, and as a result, have divided the Kumandra people into five tribes. Raya sets out to restore the peace by finding the last remaining dragon and save those whom have been turned to stone.

I actually really enjoyed the whole premise to Raya and the Last Dragon, its power struggle splitting the land into five tribes and the threat of the evil Druun made me think it would make a good narrative for a video game! Raya and the Last Dragon contains aspects of some of Disney’s most popular movies such as Mulan and Moana, for example the character Sisu whom is ‘the last dragon’ and is very reminiscent of the Mulan character Mushu. Whilst Raya and the Last Dragon does lean on some of the most well-crafted ingredients of other Disney films, Raya and Last Dragon perfects the recipe, making it a highly enjoyable adventure.

Kelly Marie Tran voices main character Raya and Awkwafina voices the last dragon, Sisu. Both Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina are fantastic with the voicing of their characters, with Kelly Marie Tran perfecting a courageous, badass Raya and Awkwafina likewise, nailing a goofy yet lovable Sisu. I honestly think that the skilful voicing work of these two characters are one of the major reasons that they are so charismatic and likeable. The additional supporting cast equally deserves credit, particularly Gemma Chan, Izaac Wang and Benedict Wong, whose skilful voicing brings their characters to life.

As Raya journeys through Kumandra with Sisu and her trusty sidekick Tuk Tuk, it doesn’t take long for her to befriend a band of misfits who accompany her on the adventure. Hilarious sidekicks are a mandatory feature for Disney films and Raya and the Last Dragon has them in abundance! From young entrepreneur and owner of the “Shrimporium” Boun, to the formidable warrior Tong, this group of oddballs provide some of the funniest moments in the movie and the bond they develop over the course of the film makes them feel like family. These loveable characters are some of the best I’ve seen in recent years from Disney and will no doubt be a hit amongst fans both young and old.

As Disney expands its ever growing roster of princesses, it’s refreshing to see the evolution and development of new lead characters like Raya. Whilst there will always be a place for princesses in castles, I think in the modern climate, people want an independent fearless protagonist to be a pioneer and Disney certainly get this right with Raya.

The animation in Raya and the Last Dragon is truly gorgeous! It never fails to surprise me how Disney out do themselves when it comes to creating a stunning animated adventure and in Raya and the Last Dragon, Disney went above and beyond. From the realistic ripples on the water, to every strand of hair gently flowing in the breeze, I was left feeling awe-inspired by the meticulousness gone to in creating this visual masterpiece. We can often overlook the animation in Disney films as it’s something we have become so accustom to, but it’s hard not to notice just how phenomenal this film looks.

I guess the biggest question at the moment is whether or not Raya and the Last Dragon is worth the £19.99 Premier Access fee to watch. Personally I thoroughly enjoyed it and have no regrets having paid to watch it early, but if you do have any doubts, then I would wait until it becomes free for all Disney+ subscribers on June 4. Raya and the Last Dragon is a fantastic film, but it will still equally be a fantastic film in 3 months’ time too, it’s not going anywhere!

The Verdict

Gorgeously animated, hilariously loveable characters and a beautiful, heartfelt adventure, Raya and the Last Dragon is Disney at its best.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

9/10

Raya and the Last Dragon is now available to stream on Disney+ Premier Access. Alternatively it will be free for all Disney+ subscribers on June 4.

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