While your family may still be plowing through the extensive library on Disney+, you'll definitely want to put Disney's newest animated film on your radar. This week, Disney's first look at Raya and The Last Dragon arrived and it looks like Disney fans are in for a magical treat.
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, according to Entertainment Weekly.
So what exactly is Raya and The Last Dragon about? According to Inside The Magic, 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 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.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran will voice 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.
The film was originally set to be released in 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.
You can look forward to Raya and The Last Dragon premiering in theaters on March 12, 2021.