While your family may still be plowing through the extensive library on Disney+, you'll definitely want to Disney's delightful and adventurous animated film Raya and The Last Dragon on your radar. The Disney movie is one of three that has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated feature film. (The other two nominated movies are Encanto and Luca.)
Not only is the storyline exciting, but Raya and The Last Dragon also marks an exciting first for Disney: its first film inspired by Southeast Asia. So here is everything you need to know before it becomes a permanent fixture on Disney’s streaming service.
What Is Raya and the Last Dragon About?
The animated movie is "an epic fantasy adventure with Southeast Asian themes, set in a realm called Kumandra, and is described as 'a reimagined earth inhabited by an ancient civilization,'" according to Inside The Magic.
According to Disney's synopsis, "humans and dragons lived together in harmony" in Kumandra long ago, but "when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity." "Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the Druun for good," the synopsis continues. "However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than dragon magic to save the world — it’s going to take trust as well."
In the film, Raya will be joined by her trusty sidekick, Tuk Tuk — who Entertainment Weekly described as a fuzzy bear that meets an insect version of an armadillo — and will help track down the last dragon to help stop an evil force that threatens their home.
Is Raya and the Last Dragon Appropriate For Young Kids?
Raya and the Last Dragon is rated PG for some action, violence, and thematic elements. Grief is a major theme in the movie, according to Common Sense Media, and there are some scary sequences, as well as intense fights, which the outlet says makes it suitable for kids ages 8 and older.
Some violence aside, Raya and the Last Dragon stands out for character strengths, positive gender representations, and emphasizes important messages, according to Common Sense Media. The film puts a contemporary spin on “girl power,” according to Entertainment Weekly's review, and is a “must-see for the family,” as The Beat put it. The San Francisco Chronicle even predicts that Raya and the Last Dragon will be an animated classic.
Raya and the Last Dragon Has A Stellar Cast
Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran voices Raya and is the first Southeast Asian actress to lead an animated film from Disney, according to Gizmodo. The film is also being co-written by Malaysian screenwriter Adele Lim and Vietnamese-American playwright Qui Nguyen.
Tran told Entertainment Weekly that Raya will give new meaning to the label of "Disney princess." "Raya is totally a warrior," she told the news outlet. "When she was a kid, she was excited to get her sword. And she grows up to be a really badass, gritty warrior, and can take care of herself."
At Disney's D23 conference last year, producer Osnat Shurer announced that the film is "inspired by Southeast Asia, both in its themes of community and hope, and in its design," according to CNA Lifestyle.
Raya & the Last Dragon Is On Disney+
After being released on Disney+’s Premier Access for $29.99 in March, Raya and the Last Dragon has been available to all Disney+ subscribers to watch with the cost of their subscription since June 4, 2021. This means that you will be able to watch Raya and the Last Dragon at any time on Disney+, as long as you have an account.
The film was originally set to be released last November, according to Deadline, but was pushed back and completed remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although the film has been in the works for a while, Carlos López Estrada, one of the film's directors, told Entertainment Weekly that Raya and The Last Dragon has a message that is so relevant to everything going on in the world.
"Even though our team has been working on this movie for years and years and years, it's going to feel like an idea that we had maybe a month ago because it talks so much about the themes and the questions and the hope that's happening today, and also the lack of hope and this wrestling with all these really, really important emotions that are happening right now," he said.
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