Charlotte Peterson’s review of “Raya and the Last Dragon”

Disney released their new movie, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” on March 5, 2021. Disney films always tend to be fun and uplifting, and this latest one follows that pattern. The movie features a fun and exciting storyline with beautiful animation and a powerful female lead. Although there were a few faults, “Raya and the Last Dragon” ultimately did not disappoint.

Long ago, humans lived peacefully among dragons in the fantasy world of Kumandra. Fatefully, a plague of monsters called the Druun attacked, and in order to save humanity, the dragons were wiped out. 500 years later, the monsters have returned and Raya must find the last dragon, Sisu, and with her help, eliminate the monsters and save their world. 

Generally, this movie was alright.  The characters are interesting and likable, and the plot is entertaining. There are a lot of people who like to bash newer films from studios like Disney and Pixar, but these movies are made for kids, and when watching them as a teenager or adult, it’s unlikely to experience the same childhood magic that made those movies so good as children. 

However, despite the positives, this film was slightly predictable and not very memorable. Most movies directed towards children will be somewhat predictable: it’s seemingly hard to avoid. This film also didn’t carry as much of the magic and excitement that makes all other Disney movies so special. Even other more recent movies, like “Moana,” have this aspect to them that creates a magical experience watching them. One of the reasons “Raya and the Last Dragon,” might have not had this magic was because the movie featured no songs. From “The Lion King” to “Frozen II,” almost every Disney movie has had fun, catchy music that everyone loves to sing along to. Sadly, this wasn’t the case with this movie, which seems to be part of the reason it wasn’t as magical or memorable. 

The only other issue with this movie was the animation on the dragons. While most of the scenes have beautifully animated moments, I was disappointed by the dragons, especially the mystical Sisu. There are countless pieces of art that depict dragons, and they look powerful, magical and beautiful. The dragons in this movie, however, are not as likable in looks. The body proportions are odd and instead of looking powerful, the dragons look awkward and strange. The design was styled after traditional Chinese dragons, so they have no wings and long, slim bodies and smaller arms.

I have seen hundreds of amazing depictions of Chinese dragons that are stunning, but the magical creatures are seen in “Raya and the Last Dragon,” just seem to fall short of that. In addition to the body, the face of the dragon Sisu is unfortunate. It might be the eyes, or the mouth, or the head but there is just something off with the appearance that’s hard to place. While most of the movie was okay, this aspect was just really disappointing to me and lessened the movie.

While I can be pretty harsh about predictability and designs, all in all, this is a children’s movie and for the intended audience, Disney did a great job creating yet another film. Even despite my criticisms, I still liked this movie and had a fun time watching it.