Another colourful, cheerful fantasy with a sparkly doe-eyed dragon, spirited girls and jolly sidekicks.
Watching Raya and the Last Dragon one cannot think the world is filled with gloom, doom, masks and a wicked virus. The movie is so jolly, colourful and upbeat that even the bad things do not get you down as you are convinced that this is just a little road bump and things will be fine.
Dragons and humans co-existed in the magic land of Kumandra till 500 years ago, evil spirits called Druun began attacking the land and turning everyone into stone. The dragons fought back and made a final stand by pouring all their power into a magic gem. The Druun were sent back but at a terrible cost—the dragons were gone too.
In the following 500 years the land was split into five tribes—Fang, Heart, Tail, Spine and Talon, who fought each other for control of the magic orb. The ruler of Heart, Benga, believes in unity and tries to teach his dragon-obsessed daughter Raya the same. Benga invites the other tribes to a feast to show his good intentions. The leaders of the other tribes distrust him and Chief Virana from Fang with her daughter Namaari try to steal the orb. In the ensuing melee, the orb is shattered, the Druun return and to Raya’s horror, her father is turned to stone.
Six years later, Raya is bitter and suspicious (she trusted Namaari) and trying to find Sisu, the last dragon, the one who created the orb, in the hope of putting it back together, defeating the Druun and getting her father back.
The CGI is great as expected. The dragon looks more like a unicorn than the fire-breathing scaly creatures we are used to seeing. That could be because Raya and the Last Dragon draws inspiration from Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The voice work from Kelly Marie Tran (Raya) and Awkwafina (Sisu) to Gemma Chan (Namaari), Daniel Dae Kim (Benja) and Sandra Oh (Virana) is excellent.
The humour whether it is the 10-year-old boatman and entrepreneur Boun (Izaac Wang), the wicked little con baby Little Noi (Thalia Tran) is fun as is Tuk Tuk (Alan Tudyk) the armadillo, Raya’s ride. While Raya and the Last Dragon is a joyous addition to the Disney library, Zach Parrish’s short film, Us Again, is a delicious, dancing ode to love.
Raya and the Last Dragon is currently running in theatres.