Recent Walt Disney Studio Animation films have been this beautiful blend of action-adventure, fantasy, nostalgia, sci-fi, romance, and a surprising socially aware drama. None were short on excitement, heartwarming tones, and coveying life lessons. So, it comes as no surprise that “Raya and the Last Dragon,” has many of those same elements while paying reverence to the South East Asian culture through many of its details in architecture, food, martial arts, and more.
ThatsItLA was part of a group of selected journalists who saw some early and raw footage of “Raya and the Last Dragon.” So even though the animation was rough, a lot of it looks gorgeous, and the preliminary effects left quite an impression that will assuredly look extraordinary when fully rendered. Without getting too far into spoilers, the film has an emotionally resonating story with plenty of humor and heart. And “Raya and the Last Dragon” takes on a life of its own when it breaks into some breathtaking action.
When it comes to the representation, “Raya and the Last Dragon” takes a similar approach to Moana to celebrate Southeast Asian cultures, including Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, in one collective story. Many of the cultures represented in the film are done so very specific ways through architecture, costumes, food, landscape, mythology, & weaponry. To be able to see one’s self in the characters on the screen means a lot. You’ll be able to see and hear how representation is embedded into every fiber of this film.
Saw early footage of #DisneyRaya, and I can’t wait to see it in its entirety. It’s rich in SEA representation. That comes through in its architecture, costumes, food, landscape, mythology, & weaponry. Raya, Sisu & TukTuk bring fun to a film that has unexpected Indiana Jones vibes pic.twitter.com/bx4Lt6LqNg
— Michael Lee (@IamMichaelJLee) January 17, 2021
The footage I got to see for #RayaandtheLastDragon was beautiful. There are so many SE Asian elements in the background and in names for things. I really loved how they incorporated it in the story. KMT voice is a delight. pic.twitter.com/73ERMcgrHi
— Laura (she/her) (@lsirikul) January 17, 2021
— 《💗josephine @ home✨》 (@josephinespeaks) January 17, 2021
— The Distracted Tatiana (@myrcellasear) January 17, 2021
The character designs, in particular, are eye-popping. And the fact that it’s a martial arts epic, without singing or dancing, lends it a vibe all its own. (Even “Mulan” had songs.) Very “Moana” in places, which isn’t a bad thing. #RayaAndTheLastDragon 2/2
— Drew Taylor (@DrewTailored) January 17, 2021
“Raya and the Last Dragon” opens in theaters and on Disney+’s Premiere Access simultaneously on March 5, 2021.