6 Reasons to Get Excited for Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon. I have been giddy and looking forward to this new Disney Animation for a while. But, after watching 30 minutes of footage, I have 6 more Reasons to Get Excited for Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon! But, more than the footage I watched, it is the people behind the movie that made an impact. I attended an early press day with members of the Disney Raya team. And, I have to say, they did not dissapoint. So, get ready to add another impressive movie to your list of favorites. From what I have seen thus far, everyone will be jumping in the air happy with it.
6 Reasons to Get Excited for Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon
Wow, I am blown away by Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon. This is flawless animation! I can’t wait to watch it all….over and over again. Here are the first 6 things that spoke to me watching the footage. Along, with the words of inspiration and creation from the Disney Animation team. As you can imagine, a lot behind this beautiful production. But, I think this list just propels us into a countdown to March 5th when the movie will be in theaters and on Disney Plus Premier Access.
Here is a list of the Disney Creatives we spoke to: Don Hall, director; Carlos López Estrada, director; Osnat Shurer, producer; Qui
Nguyen, screenwriter; and Adele Lim, screenwriter.
Yes, we already have Mulan. But, there is so much to discover in Asia. Of course, in Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon, SE Asia come alive magically, as only Disney can make it come alive. As you know, I am all about learning about new cultures. So, this alone has me beyond happy and so ready to watch the full movie! Of course, I asked what impacted the movie creators the most from SE Asia when they were in situ doing their research. This is what they answered:
“For me, the most important takeaway from these amazing cultures that we got a chance to interact with was the togetherness. The kind of coming together around food, very often, which is very cool. The coming together and the willingness, and the sense of “we.” The sense of if we come together, we can achieve a lot. If people take that away from the film when it comes out in a few weeks, it’s a thrill”.
“I just wanted to echo what Osnat said in terms of community. It’s an easy term to say, but I feel like, with a lot of cultures in Southeast Asia, it’s really feeling that someone else’s child is your child. That you are responsible for the people in your community as if they are your own family. When that’s broken, it really breaks you individually as a person. And we really wanted to feel that within the movie”.
“This is more of a visual one, I guess, but the importance of water was a huge visual thematic in the film. In terms of Sisu being a water being, a water dragon based on the Naga, water just became this reoccurring motif in the film that was extremely important”.
“For me, the thing that I really wanted, being a lifelong martial artist, was basically that I wanted to make sure that our martial arts were correct. So often when you see a big action movie that is depicted with people who look like me and Adele, the martial arts can be just any combination of anything. Really, they could be made-up martial arts. But for this, it was very important that the moves that Namaari, Benja, and Raya used were things that were based and rooted in Southeast Asian martial arts. Specifically, Pencak silat, Arnis and Muay Thai”.
We haven’t seen anything like this before. The images just flow and effortlessly tell a story while it transports us to a magical adventure. All the while, I can almost feel just by watching. This animation evokes a certain sensibility that alerts to beauty. Even though Kumandra is a fantasy world, as the artists and filmmakers designed the look of the various lands, they were inspired by fabrics, colors, and decor suggestive of those found in the region to build a sense of reality and relatable authenticity to the film, with particular attention to tradition and customs.
Director Carlos López Estrada, explains:
“We’re making a movie that is inspired by the cultures of Southeast Asia, and we want to make sure that when people from the region see this, although Kumandra is made-up place, they can feel the love and respect the team had for the incredible real places that inspired us. We worked hard to make sure that this world we created feels dynamic, that the inspirations affecting the story really come through and that nothing is lost. We want to pay tribute to these cultures that inspired the story and the world of Kumandra.”
Beautiful Storytelling and A Lot of Heart
Get ready to get transported. Also, be prepared for powerful emotions, Yes, I laughed, cheered, and shed a tear or two. All that in just 30 minutes. Just imagine how strong the storytelling of this movie is! Moreover, it gives us pause to look at the world through another’s lense:
Carlos López elaborates:
A nice texture also to Sisu’s character is that in the movie, she gains the power of shapeshifting, and she’s able to transform into a human. And that allows her to also understand what it feels like to experience the world through our eyes. The distrust and the challenges that we face with each other. And that, I think, brings her just a little bit closer to us and allows her to speak not only from experience and not only from hundreds of years of wisdom. But, also just from a different perspective, which is many times something that we lack”.
A New Disney Princess
If I am not mistaken, Moana was the last Disney Princess we met. It has been a while and this princess does not disappoint! In this film, we will see girl power for sure. But, for the creators, it is one more part of the equation and not the central theme. More so, because as the screenwriters tell us:
“ In Southeast Asia, there’s a great tradition of female leaders, military leaders, and warriors. In Malaysia, we have the warrior Tun Fatimah, and we have stories of Naga Tasik Chini, which is the dragon of Chini Lake. So, it’s sort of within a lot of cultures in Southeast Asia.”
“In Vietnamese culture, there’s this really famous story of the Trung sisters. They’re like these famous Vietnamese warriors that I definitely thought of. Without a doubt, I think Adele and I drew inspiration for families from our parents. Specifically for me, from my mom. I know what she had to go through when she came to this country. And, just to have that kind of fighting spirit. Also, just the kind of energy that our people have that you don’t always get to display on screen. It was important for us to show the real spirit of Southeast Asia out there.”
Strong Mind and Body
We are in for some cool action-packed scenes featuring girls that are focused on their goals. We are in for a determined princess that seems to have evolved a lot. Nevertheless, we will see how strength also comes from support:
Carlos Lopez Estrada says:
“This group of people of completely different backgrounds and ideologies is forced to be together and forced to coexist that they get to really understand each other and they get to see eye-to-eye and they get to sort of speak the same language, which is really what the movie’s about. Hopefully, (this movie will) inspire these conversations about what it takes for people from seemingly different backgrounds to come together and work together. And trust each other”.
Unity and Trust.
Producer, Osnat Shurer told us during the early press junket that this is a story “About trust, and it’s a story about people doing what’s needed to come together. And it’s not exactly incidental what gender they are, but they’re working for something so much greater. In addition to that, we have Tong and we have Boun in the story, and we have Benja who is the key behind the whole motivation of the entire story. So we actually see it as a world that more reflects the world that we live in, and if we look in the crowds, and if you look among the guards, you will always see about a 50-50 split, which is more similar to the world we all live in. Really proud of our team for that”.
Additionally, Sisu will be the one to carry the trust flag. I believe, she will be teaching / reminding us a thing or two, as the screenwriters tell us:
“Working for Disney, I think part of what we do is that we deal in magic. I think, right now, the world is very broken. This movie has a lot of magic in it, but I think the biggest piece of magic in it is trust. It is the real secret ingredient that will save our fictional world of Kumandra. And it’s a message I think is really important for the world to have and see”.
“Sisu has that trust and that faith in humanity, even when we don’t deserve it. Even when we betray it. Even when we let each other down again and again. We can feel embittered. We can feel, caught up in our own grudges. But, some creature, like Sisu being able to see that sort of divine core within everybody is the thing that inspires everyone. I hope that’s what people come away with when they see Sisu”.
New Characters to Love
If you don’t go awwwwww with Tuk Tuk, I think it isn’t in your vocabulary, hahaha. Honestly, this armadillo looking critter is loveable and such a great sidekick. Of course, Sisu is fierce and has plenty of cool magic to her. Of course, each character is in here for a reason. Take for example the hilarious con artist baby:
Carlos López Estrada shares about Don Hall’s character creation:
I think it reflects something about the movie that we’re all very proud of. Because, yes, she’s an unforgettable character, and yes, it’s very funny. But, I think what most drew us to that idea is that it would represent a real struggle in this world. On the surface, she’s a cute little baby that bosses around these fantasy monkeys. But, if you get to understand her story, you’ll realize that it actually comes from a really human place. She robs people because she’s an orphan. And, she doesn’t have a place to sleep. Plus, she hangs out with these monkeys because she doesn’t have anyone else. And, I think that’s very reflective of the journey that we go on in this movie. You meet this group of people that, on the surface, appear to be tough or aggressive or violent. But, then you get to meet them, and there’s a reason why those people are perceived a certain way”.
About Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon
Like I said:
Just screened 30 mins of Raya And The Last Dragon-
Full of heart, incredible animation & fantastic story telling is but a glimpse of how amazing #rayaandthepastdragon is! #DisneyRaya can’t come soon enough to @disneyplus #disneyplus
— Taty (@CoolChillMom) January 18, 2021
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” travels to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.
Remember, Disney’s Raya And The Last Dragon will be available on March 5th.