‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ dazzles in debut

Disney’s newest film, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” came out on Disney+ Friday, March 5 and did not fail to impress. Its fascinating storyline, beautiful graphics and interesting characters make it a must watch for any Disney fan.

The main character, Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), meets a girl from Fang, a rival city, named Namaari (Gemma Chan) and befriends her. Raya is then betrayed by Namaari and accidentally unleashes the evil Druun, which turn people to stone. To stop the Druun from pushing humans to extinction, Raya must go on a quest to find the last dragon, who disappeared the last time the Druun were released. When Raya finds the last dragon, Sisu (Nora Lum), the two must journey back to Fang to unite the citizens of their former country, Kumandra.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the film is the animation. The graphics are much more advanced than most animated films and feature beautiful scenes of rivers, woods and snowy mountains, among others. Raya’s adventures also take her to a multitude of different environments, from deserts to tundras and lush forests to white beaches. Seeing these beautiful scenes are important in investing viewers in the movie and enhancing the mythical storyline with detailed graphics.

This movie also is the first Disney movie that depicts Southeast Asian culture. This is instrumental for Disney because they have been trying to represent different cultures in their projects, especially recently. “Raya and the Last Dragon” is the perfect addition to the Disney collection because not only is it a fabulous film, but it highlights a culture that has not yet been touched on in the Disney series.

Another strength of the film is its character design. On their journey, Raya and Sisu join forces with a compelling crew of people, including a little boy, a barbarian, a baby and some monkeys. The group is compelling to watch and is able to create humor and interest throughout the story, as well as exposing Raya’s character by allowing her to show her resilience by leading them right into battle.

The storyline is not only interesting, but it teaches young people how to act and treat others by showing audiences how being kind can do great things for you, as it helped Raya make friends for her quest. The film is entertaining for audiences of all ages while delivering instructive lessons, which is great for keeping people engaged. Most children’s movies focus on certain issues such as friendship and loyalty to teach kids right from wrong and how to act. “Raya and the Last Dragon” does a great job of balancing this while still making the story entertaining. The main issue that is addressed is trust and how putting yourself out there will only mean good things, and the directors hit the nail on the head when conveying that message. Sisu’s character is made to teach Raya trust, and by doing this, Raya is able to learn many lessons that help her along her journey.

Perhaps the only flaw of the film is how static the characters are. The filmmakers did not develop and shift the characters or their viewpoints very much, as many Disney movies in the past have. With few exceptions, none of the characters seem to change at all, which took a level of intrigue away. Even Raya, the main character, does not have a clear direction. After making a mistake, she still does the same things over and over again, including not listening to Sisu, which hurt her character.

Outside of that flaw, “Raya and the Last Dragon” is an amazing film that will attract viewers of any age. With good qualities throughout, watching this movie will leave viewers with a lasting impact and wanting more.