It wasn’t that long since Dwayne Johnson was in the news regarding his latest role as star of Shane Black’s Doc Savage and featuring in a stunt sneak-peak from Fast 8, yet The Rock is making headlines once more in a rather unusual way: He’s starring in the latest Disney princess movie, Moana.

Before you ask, no he isn’t the princess. A brilliantly animated version of Johnson (complete with signature eyebrows and dancing muscles) is seen bragging in the first trailer for Disney’s Moana as Maui, a demi-god with a big body and even bigger ego. It’s not the first time Johnson has played a demigod (think of Brett Ratner’s fun but forgettable Hercules) and even in animation, he looks the part. Evidently Johnson is a guaranteed money maker, as recognised and bankable as he is now, but he’s not the only attraction. News about the movie has been kept very quiet in its development phases, but the trailer is a beautiful and delightful surprise, with stunning animation and some immediately likeable characters.

Moana characters

The movie is set to be based in picturesque New Zealand and, by the looks of the trailer, venturing out into the wilds of the South Pacific. This marks a first for Disney as this location is a relatively untouched territory for them (unless we cast our minds all the way back to something like the oft-forgotten Rescuers: Down Under) and Moana, who shines gloriously in both animation and voice acting in the trailer, is their first Polynesian princess. She’s strong willed, adventurous and voiced by 14 year old newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, who was discovered while singing at a local charity event. Not only is Moana going to be another popular woman of colour in Disney’s expanding universe, but the movie appears to be strongly embedded in Polynesian culture, from the story of Maui and other legends to the themes of the natural and voyaging, which directors Ron Clements and John Musker (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Hercules, The Princess and the Frog) claim were inspirations from the location itself.

moana

Indeed, Clement and Musker are already well known for introducing princesses of colour to the Disney-verse after their runaway success with The Princess and the Frog and they’ve masterfully crafted some of the most beloved Disney films around, which makes for a very exciting creative team on this project. Expectations are bound to be high with writers like Jared Bush involved, who was responsible for both the incredible Zootopia and Big Hero 6 and the musical team is also shaping up to be extraordinary, with names like the brilliant, Tony Award winning Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda involved. It’s the directorial duos first completely computer animated movie but with an already loveable cast of characters (including Moana’s adorable pet pig Pua) and some genuinely breath-taking animation already, it doesn’t seem to have lost any magic for it.

Moana is set for UK release on the 2nd of December 2016

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