5.5/10 A movie that attempts a lot of good, “Raya and the Last Dragon” ultimately falls into mediocrity due its formulaic script containing many elements that we’ve seen so many times before. Luckily this movie does nail several elements and if you have kids, they will surely enjoy this movie. As for what worked here, the world building and Asian cultural elements were fascinating and an eye catching realm to be a part of for almost two hours. The visuals look gorgeous as a couple different animation styles are worked into the movie and the cinematography/lighting were brilliant. While I watched the movie I mentally noted how great the score was and waited for the ending credits to see who scored the movie. One of the best living composers, James Newton Howard, wrote the score and once I saw his name the high quality music made sense. The movie has a nice moral message about unity and putting differences aside, which is forever timely and relevant in an extremely divided world/country. Disney has been known to force in some questionable content verging on propaganda but luckily the moral of the story aimed at children is commendable and encouraging. The vast majority of the voice cast is also spot on and the pacing worked well for a movie that runs about 20 minutes longer than your average animated movie aimed at kids. As for the problems, the biggest this one has is the script. The Disney formula of characters with one or both dead parents, a cute animal sidekick or two, a predictable ending, etc. are all Disney staples that predictably show up here with nothing new added to subvert our expectations. As for the one voice actor who was a problem, that was Awkwafina. Not because she didn’t do a good job (on the contrary) but because her character was so annoying that when paired with her voice, it just made me not want to see or hear her character again. It was very reminiscent of Ken Jeong’s character in “Over the Moon” in which he was completely dedicated to the role (as Awkwafina is here) but due to how annoying and unfunny the character was, you just can’t stand them. This movie also had what I call “The Magneto Problem”, which almost all of the X-Men movies had. “The Magneto Problem” is when characters trust a specific character, specific character betrays other characters and yet they continue to trust them no matter how many times they are betrayed by that same person. Getting betrayed and caught off guard once makes sense (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me) but to get betrayed so many times becomes less and less believable each time it happens and this movie has that problem in spades. The couple attempts at humor fell flat and side characters weren’t developed at all. Despite the beautiful visuals, powerful score, talented voice actors and strong messaging, “Raya and the Last Dragon” is brought down by a lackluster script with clichés we’ve seen a million times, no real humor, characters making ridiculous decisions and falling for the same ploy over and over and a predictable ending. If you want a superior animated dragon film, stick with “How to Train Your Dragon” and its sequels.

#HowToPainYourDragon / #BoldFacedRaya / #WeFoughtASisu / #RayateousKill / #StarringAquafina / #OceansMate

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