Sunday, June 12, 2016

One Great Splash: The 'Moana' Teaser is a Gem

Though we don't know when this will officially be posted by Disney themselves, the teaser for Walt Disney Animation Studios' next epic Moana has leaked out from other sources. You can now see the epicness of it...

It is rumored that it will play during the Tonys tonight, given a certain someone's amount of nominations. You'll most likely see its international variants for the time being, some of which carrying the title Vaiana. (Why it has that title... It's a long story.) Stitch Kingdom's carrying the UK version, but I can't embed it here, so...

... And just like that, hours after I originally posted it and headed off to Disney Springs (currently on my vacation down in the big double-u dee double-u), Disney officially unleashed it.

Anyways, I loved this teaser...

Out of all the recent Disney animated features, Moana has the best teaser of them all. It opens with Eric Goldberg's lovely traditional animation of one of Maui's magical tattoos, showing that the film will have at least one lengthy art shift. That's good! Animated movies should have more of those! Not going to lie, some of my favorite Disney animated moments are these kinds of scenes, and I missed them in the last three features.

We're already off to a good start.

We get a little spot of comedy with Moana and Maui that works, but thankfully this is not the whole teaser...

We get a nice showcase of the film's scope after that via a big, booming montage... And we even get to hear one of Lin-Manuel Miranda's songs! The tidbit of the song is epic and atmospheric, capturing the sound of the setting. The birds-eye view of the breaking of the ocean in particular is a delicate shot, as is the little scene of young Moana seeing it unfold before her eyes. Maui turning into a giant bird is a surprising tease of the film's more fantastical elements. The lighting and color work? On point.

It's a perfect little teaser. It feels like a Walt Disney Animation Studios event picture is being shown to you, not a silly derivative CG comedy. This is coming from someone who actually didn't dislike the ice lake shenanigans teaser for Frozen, or the "suit up the plump Baymax" teaser for Big Hero 6, or even Zootopia's "world of Zootopia" teaser. Those were fine for what they were, plus I never usually expect too much from teasers these days... But this teaser... This teaser is something special.

This teaser probably would not have flown back in 2010, or 2013. With the success of Tangled and Frozen behind them, Disney's marketing folk are fully confident in showing the musical side of the film, though Moana sadly isn't the main focus of the teaser itself, my only criticism. She gets one line of dialogue here, and we see her in a few shots during the montage, but Maui definitely gets more spotlight. Makes sense, though - gotta show off the tattoos and also, a big name is voicing him.

Extra points for the stylized Disney castle at the beginning. I really hope that's used for the opening, not the closing credits.

This is the first time Disney Animation is readying two films for the same calendar year in fourteen years. In 2002, we got the weirder, offbeat hit Lilo & Stitch in the summer, and - coincidentally - Ron Clements and John Musker's sci-fi adventure Treasure Planet near Thanksgiving.

Unlike 2002, we aren't in a time where the features were at stake - in terms of quality and the box office. No micromanaging meddlers who didn't give two darns about animation in the Hat Building, compromising almost every project that got greenlit. Zootopia was not only great and one of the best of the modern films, but also a critical darling that has grossed $1 billion worldwide. Moana ought to be very successful too, given the current atmosphere of the studio. I think they've got something special, fresh, and new here despite the movie's promise to carry some of the 90s-isms of Disney Animation.

What did you think of the teaser?


  1. It'll mean very little to me unless we see another hand drawn feature from Disney again.

  2. AWESOME! Love the hand drawn bit.

  3. The teaser was awesome. I thought they'll mention Clements and Musker as "The Directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin", but maybe they didn't in order to avoid false expectations from the general audience, because this film will be totally different, than the others.

  4. I think it my will be a disappointment like all of Musket and Clements's films since 1994.

  5. I was into the first 24 seconds. I now have almost no interest in seeing it. I thought no one used "introducing" in trailers anymore.