Written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, Raya and the Last Dragon is the story of Raya who seeks out the last surviving dragon to save the kingdom of Kumandra from the evil menace of the Druun (evil spirits responsible for turning people to stone).
As a child, Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) was betrayed by one she thought was a friend and that led to the catastrophe that decimated her people (including her father).
Because of that tragic incident, the heroine has major trust issues and this is something that influences every move and decision she makes.
Raya meets Sisu (Awkafina, the last dragon, early on and finds out that she is not what she expected. Sisu is the opposite of Raya; easily trusting and goofy. Despite the fact that it was the actions of humans that led to her race being destroyed, Sisu's trust in humanity remains unwavering and she is ready to go to any length to show that they can change.
Finding Sisu is only the first part of the quest as the two (along with a few sidekicks they pick up in the course of their journey) must find the other parts of the missing orb which holds the key to bringing back all that they lost and vanquishing the Druun.
Raya and her friends are pursued by Namaari, a fierce female warrior from the Fang tribe who will stop at nothing to claim the only power that remains in the land.
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As Namaari closes in, Raya realizes that the only way to succeed in her quest may be to open up her heart again to trust a bitter enemy. It is no easy feat as even Sisu is powerless to stop the threat that eventually catches up to them.
First off, the animation is superb; from the character designs to the costumes and the realism of the CGI environment. Even the movements of the characters show a marked improvement compared to previous animated films.
Then the action is awesome. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when I saw a PG rating cos I knew it had to with the action. Having seen the movie, I must say that it has the best fight sequences I have seen in a Disney film.
The thing that is most remarkable about Raya and the Last Dragon is its themes; learning to trust even when you have no reason to, the power of unity, and change beginning from each and every one of us as individuals.
There is no better time for all the races of humanity to embrace one another and live in harmony. This is the message at the core of this film.
I grew up watching animated movies and cartoons. In all my years reviewing such films, none of them has had the impact that Raya and the Last Dragon had on me. I was moved to tears at a point (that's how powerful the movie is). The only other film that comes close to this, for me, is Moana.
It's not easy to keep movie fans spellbound with fantastic tales over the years, but in that regard, Disney has continued to succeed.
It's easy to forget that Raya and the Last Dragon was made during the height of the pandemic (forcing animators and others involved to work remotely) because the final result astounds the senses.
Two thumbs way up to directors behind this superb film, Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada, and the two wonderful leads, Kelly Marie Tran and Awkafina, for an unforgettable voice acting impression.
And last but not least, much thanks to the Mouse House for delivering something phenomenal (as you guys do most of the time).
Raya and the Last Dragon is undoubtedly one of the finest films ever made, one which I will see many more times again!
Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) is a young girl who embarks on a quest to find the last dragon and save her village.