When I attended the Animation panel at this year’ D23 Expo, there was a lot of interesting footage I saw from some of the upcoming films from Walt Disney Animation and Pixar. However, one of the standouts to me was the footage that was shown from Disney Animation’s Moana. I had heard about the film previously through news stories, and of course, when it was announced, but there was some footage shown to the audience there that absolutely floored me.
The film centers on a free-spirited and strong teenage girl named Moana living in the Pacific Islands over 2,000 years ago, who after growing tired of the lack of expedition among her people, journeys out to prove herself as a capable seafarer and navigator. Along the way she runs into a demigod named Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) who accompanies her on her journey. Along with Johnson, the voice cast for the film already includes Alan Tudyk as well.
With the film just a little over a year away from its 2016 release too, it looks like Disney has finally found the voice of their next movie princess (via People). 14-year old, Native Hawaiian, Auli’i Cravalho recently nabbed the role after the studio auditioned over hundreds of other young women from the Pacific Islands. Watch the announcement video below:
Her co-star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson congratulated the young actress on landing the role on Twitter as well earlier today:
“Moana is such an amazing character. She’s brave, she is so empowered, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it, and I think that’s something that I can relate to as well. I just love watching how she goes along in this wonderful movie and grows as a person and helps her culture along the way.”
She also commented on what it will be like to get to work with Johnson on the film, and getting to hear the action star sing as well:
“I am very excited about that, my gosh. I’ve never heard him sing before so it’s going to be really interesting!”
Director John Musker commented on Cravalho’s casting, explaining why he, co-director Ron Clements, and the rest of the Moana creative team decided that she was the right actress for the role:
“Auli’i demonstrated a certain fearlessness in her auditions and call-backs. She has a playful, mischievous wit. She can project vulnerability, she doesn’t seem intimidated at all by the challenges ahead, and her Polynesian background has helped shape her connection to family, hard work and music. These are all qualities she shares with Moana.”
It sounds like Disney may have some very big plans in store for Moana in the film, and she also marks yet another step towards more diversity in their Disney Princess ranks, and it’ll be interesting to not only see how her cultural heritage differentiates her from past princesses, but also what similarities she might share as well. Judging by this recent announcement as well as the info shared at D23 too – it looks like from both a visual and emotional standpoint, Moana might be one of Walt Disney Animation’s most successful mixes of both fun adventure, with heart-gripping emotion. I can’t wait.
Here’s the film’s official synopsis:
“Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast South Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one today knows why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated adventure about a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder and fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), and together, they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous fiery creatures and impossible odds.”
Moana is set to hit theatres on November 23rd, 2016.
Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.
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