‘Raya’ worth seeing but not at premiere price points

“Raya and the Last Dragon” is available on Disney+.


“Raya and the Last Dragon” is available on Disney+.

Violet Chace, Entertainment Editor

Inspired by Southeast Asian cultures, “Raya and the Last Dragon” is an adventurous new Disney animated film. Raya has to go on a quest to find the last dragon in order to defeat the evil Druun monsters that have come back after seemingly being destroyed by dragons that went almost extinct because of it. In the fantasy world of Kumandra, we follow Raya on a journey to save humanity and discover the meaning of trust along the way. 

“Raya and the Last Dragon” had little to no advertising and was released the same day as the finale of “WandaVision.” For a new Disney princess movie, the same level of advertisement as “Frozen” and “Moana” was expected. COVID-19 has made it difficult to build anticipation for a movie that most people will not even get to see in theaters. Based on the effort Disney put into advertising, they apparently didn’t want anyone to watch it. 

There is a beautifully animated and completely original Earth-like world as the setting for “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Consequently, a lot of the screen time is spent explaining the geography and physics of terrane and cultures that viewers are unfamiliar with. The writers organically convey information through the dialog, but that takes away from time that could have been spent on more action sequences or character development. 

“Raya and the Last Dragon” has some of the best fight choreography in any Disney movie ever made. In addition to the fun side characters, Raya has excellent chemistry with her rival Virana that makes each of their action sequences together that much more powerful. Creators do a great job incorporating inventive weapons and action packed fight scenes despite it being a cartoon. The only issue with the animation is with the last dragon herself. Her proportions are just a little off and watching her move and talk in both human and dragon form is unsatisfying. 

Unlike most Disney films, “Raya and the Last Dragon” is not a musical, but while watching, it doesn’t feel like musical numbers would add to the film and it works without them. Especially because of all of the combat and the more adventurous nature of the movie, songs would have conflicted with the tone. Instead, the score by James Newton Howard is a major contributor as to why “Raya and the Last Dragon” works so well. The background music plays perfectly with the visuals on screen and captures what audience members should be feeling in that moment.

Locally, “Raya and the Last Dragon” is available to watch in theaters such as The Oaks. For people who are not comfortable going to a cinema or live in an area where they are not open, the film is available on Disney+ if you have premier access which they are charging $30 extra for. “Raya and the Last Dragon” is a fun watch, but viewers might as well just wait until it is available on Disney+ for free in a few months. This is a major contributor as to why it disappointed at the box office the weekend of March 5 when it was released. 

Overall, “Raya and the Last Dragon” is a must-watch despite poor advertising, but it is not worth the $30 Disney+ is charging for it.