Moana 2 Risks Repeating A Criticism From Disney’s 3-Year-Old Movie With 93% On Rotten Tomatoes

Moana 2’s storyline could repeat one aspect of a three-year-old Disney movie that garnered criticism despite its 93% Rotten Tomatoes score. The film’s latest trailer highlighted the largely updated visuals and music, showcasing how Moana (Auliʻi Cravalho) has grown over the three-year time gap. The trailer also hinted at the new threat Moana must face, which threatens the island and beyond. However, Moana 2 risks issues with the movie’s format as its revealed premise could hinder the film’s worldbuilding.

Moana 2’s story is set to follow the titular character as she sails again with Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), with the two searching for other islands around Oceania at the behest of her ancestors. A few other details have been revealed, including that Moana will be traveling with a larger crew in the sequel. While the premise could create a fun adventure film, its similarities to another Disney property’s main storyline could cause some issues with the narrative’s execution.

Moana 2’s premise shares many similarities with Raya and the Last Dragon, as both films have multiple locations and a more abstract threat. Raya and the Last Dragon’s main premise follows Raya as she attempts to find the last dragon to save her divided land from evil. Both Disney films focus on this idea of bridging division against a force whose power is based in that division, showcasing the importance of community and connection. Though the premise is strong, Moana 2 could create plot holes as it attempts to speed through its worldbuilding in the same way as the 2021 film.

Moana 2’s plot needs to spend adequate time in each location and find other ways to explore its world, allowing the film to avoid Raya and the Last Dragon’s mistake. Though the film’s main message was about unity, the world of Raya and the Last Dragon was barely explored in the film as the characters raced from one location to the next. This caused Raya and the Last Dragon’s ending to feel hollow despite its high Rotten Tomatoes score. Viewers had little time to care about the world’s inhabitants and see how their current division could be destructive, making the final message of community triumphing over all fall flat.

Moana 2 could avoid this worldbuilding mistake by expanding on each new island, highlighting their individual characteristics and unique purposes to the story. Through this expansion, Moana 2’s worldbuilding and characters can be fleshed out further, allowing viewers to connect with each potential addition to Moana’s crew. Not only that, but the movie’s new threat will become more menacing as its impact on these places in the past or present is slowly revealed. Lastly, Moana 2’s final message will be made more powerful, as it will showcase these characters drawing upon richly established history and truly demonstrate the power of community.

Moana and Raya and the Last Dragon are currently streaming on Disney+.
Source: Rotten Tomatoes