Gretchen Lee — Staff Writer
I don’t cry during movies very often. I feel the full spectrum of human emotions and I connect deeply to movies and characters, but it takes a great deal of effort to get me to actually cry during a movie. Thus, I must give a proper “hats off” to Raya and the Last Dragon for making me shed a single, dignified tear and filling my eyes with the sheer beauty of the animation and environment.
Raya and the Last Dragon follows the story of a young woman, Raya, as she attempts to reconnect her fallen world and save her people by reuniting the pieces of the Dragon Stone and keep the last living dragon, Sisu, alive and out of the hands of her enemies. Along the way, Raya assembles a group of unlikely heroes and learns the importance of encouraging others through trust.
As mentioned above, this movie is visibly stunning. Every single scene is crafted with breathtaking artistry and use of color. The animators truly put their heart and soul into every frame and it paid off immensely. Besides the artistic aspect, the animation of the fight scenes is jaw-dropping. The movements are incredibly fluid and swift. There is one scene where two characters fought so quickly and with such skill that I couldn’t bring myself to blink. Paired with an equally lovely soundtrack, this movie is killer on the base of sound and design alone.
Thankfully, Raya’s magic doesn’t stop there; the storyline and characters are also expertly crafted. Despite existing in a world with deep lore and extensive world building, the story is not bogged down with backstory. Each detail about the world is revealed in a sensible way and allowed the viewer to take it in without getting overwhelmed or confused.
The “lesson” of this movie is also excellent. While Raya would rather use stealth and fighting to capture the five pieces of the Dragon Stone, she learns getting to know people and encouraging others is a better way to restore trust and build bridges. In a world where we are faced with conflict on social media platforms every day, this hit close to home.
The characters of the movie helped drive the plot in unexpected ways. Each character who joined Raya on her journey, no matter how small their role, clearly served a purpose. They are each uniquely crafted and written, and made the movie more enjoyable. Raya herself is wonderful because the writers allowed her to feel emotions, make mistakes with real consequences, and learn to be better without losing the core of who she is through the process. Even her enemies are well-written, each of them having clear motivations. While the villains’ methods are morally debatable, their purposes are understandable, and the audience can sympathize with all sides of this broken nation of people.
Overall, this movie is incredibly well done. It’s gorgeous, expertly written, and a fun watch. It displays the full abilities of its animators and provides a delightful sensory experience.