Voices of: Kelly Marie Tran Awkwafina Isaac Wang Daniel Dae Kim
Gemma Chan Benedict Wong Sandra Oh Alan Tadyk
This is straight Disney from the Americanized dialog to the characters dressed like Asians but bearing little resemblance to them. If you don’t mind that—and many don’t—it’s an engaging story about a fractured people getting separated into factions and coming back together on the basis of trust. Although the creators didn’t have it in mind, they realize now that it has resonance today in the need for trust and a pandemic characterized as “Druun” in the movie.
It begins with Raya’s (Tran) close relationship with her father, Benja (Kim), but with differences of opinion between the two about the world. Benja has maintained a hope that the people of Kumandra could reunite into a trusting, peaceful state once again like it was when dragons existed and before the Druun destroyed all of them. But there is one dragon left, Sisu (Awkwafina) which has survived with the charge of destroying the Druun and reuniting all the factions of Kumandra: Spine, Heart, Talon, Fang, and Tail.
Adventures follow, with Raya leading a charge forging battles with the other factions. She has enlisted Sisu, the one existent dragon, into their cause. Sisu is not as one would expect; she is witty, good-hearted, and entirely a peace-making figure. It will take a while for Raya to begin to understand her way of thinking.
Strengths of the movie include primarily female protagonists in an action movie with emphasis on friendship between women, ending the story with some ambiguity for the viewer to fill in the blanks, and a theme that is topical for our time.
The movie is colorful with Disney-quality graphics and sure to captivate the middle age to teen age crowd. I doubt that younger children will enjoy it beyond the color and the intriguing figures. It does have a message about trust, but one that is rather naïve and simplistic to my way of thinking.
Good female models in an action movie that is topical for today.
Grade: A By Donna R. Copeland