Review: ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ a gorgeous, fun film

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Disney has proven once again that they won’t let a bad pandemic get them down with “Raya and the Last Dragon,” their next big animated film with a lot of heart and some gorgeous visuals.

Available for a premium price on Disney+, “Raya” is an adventure story with big ideas, fun characters, a touch of magic and that special Disney charm. The story is a bit overstuffed, as the two-hour movie tries to create an entire new world with its own rich history and characters, but the whole thing comes together nicely in the end.

Honestly, this probably would have been better as a television series, but the movie version is still very entertaining.

Once upon a time in the land of Kumandra, the great dragons sacrificed themselves to stop the evil Drunn plague and save humanity. Now, 500 years later, due to the selfishness of people, the Druun have returned to destroy the world. It’s up to Raya to find the last surviving dragon and defeat the bad guys once again.

That is a pretty succinct summary of “Raya and the Last Dragon.” The problem is that summary barely scratches the surface. This movie is chock-full of lore, characters, twists, political alliances, kingdoms and everything else. And because of all of that, the movie either spends a lot of time explaining the backstory or we don’t get enough time to spend with that backstory.

Fortunately, what time we do get to spend with Raya and her world is very exciting and very fun. The characters are all very different from one another, giving us a really nifty group to watch. Actor Awkwafina is especially silly as Sisu, the titular last dragon. The movie also knows when to inject some drama and tragedy into the characters, making everyone more well-rounded.

On top of great characters, Raya has a lot of exciting action and adventure scenes. Raya, the character, is a bit of a swordfighter, and the movie features a lot of cool swordfights. That’s not something we usually get in animated Disney movies, and it is very much appreciated.

The animation is top of its game. With every new animated CGI movie, Disney finds a way to push the envelope. “Raya” is a gorgeous movie, worth watching for the animation alone.

If you don’t want to pay the premium price to watch “Raya” now, it will be coming out on Disney+ as part of the regular subscription later this year. Waiting is definitely an option for this film, but you won’t be disappointed if you want to pay for a nice family movie night.

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