The Reel Review

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A fearless young warrior princess, Raya, searches for the last living dragon to save her ancient world of Kumandra and unite its five tribes, in this animated Disney+ family fantasy/adventure. It is the first Disney film to feature a princess from Southeast Asia.

Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina as the voices of Raya and Sisu in Raya and the Last Dragon.

Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) are the voices behind rival warrior princesses Raya and Namaari. They are battling to restore the dragon gem and banish the evil Druun that has turned many of their people into stone. A hilarious and infectiously fun Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asiansprovides the voice of the wacky and kind dragon, Sisu.

Awkwafina as Sisu in human form in Raya and the Last Dragon.

The vibrant animation and dazzling visual effects are vintage, cutting edge Disney. The attention to detail and cultural representation from many Asian nations is truly impressive. Composer James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games, The Sixth Sense, Pretty Woman) also gives one of his best scores yet – his first score for a Disney film since 2014’s Maleficent. Equally important is the clever, well constructed story and its heartfelt message, about the importance of trust, unity and forgiveness.

REEL FACTS

• Raya is the third Disney princess to be a completely original character not based on fairy tale or legend, after Merida in 2012’s Brave and 2016’s South Pacific adventure, Moana.

Kelly Marie Tran, Gemma Chan and Awkwafina on a video chat opening dolls of their characters from Raya and the Last Dragon.

• The production team toured Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia to come up with production ideas for their ancient fantasy world of Kumandra.

• Most of Awkwafina’s lines in the film were ad-libbed and improvised, much like Robin Williams did in his role of the blue Genie in 1992’s Aladdin.

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