Disney's 59th animated feature comes in the form of another magical adventure that is Raya and the Last Dragon. Nearing ever closer to a milestone such as their 60th film is no mean feat and churning out hit after hit is just second nature to Disney nowadays however, could their latest reach the heights some of their most adored recent hits such as Moana or Frozen achieved?

Long ago, in the world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. 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 (Kelly Marie Tran), and her pet pill bug companion Tuk Tuk (Alan Tudyk), to track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the Druun for good. 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.
One thing's for sure with Raya and the Last Dragon is that is feels a lot more grown up than a lot of Disney's more recent efforts. Yes, Frozen 2 took us down a pretty dark path for the House of Mouse but this film strays away from the generic Disney formula by having no songs to break up the narrative, instead taking us on a breathtakingly relentless adventure from start to finish, and it results in one of their most thrilling films in years.

It's an adventure where we get to stop off at some rather interesting locations along the way, brought to life through some gorgeous animation and world-building that Disney really do excel at in these films. The fantasy land of Kumandra is inspired by Southeast Asian cultures and it really is a fantastic setting for such a heartfelt story that brings the idea of trust to the fore. Disney simply must be running out of things to teach us about at this rate.

As a character, Raya is a worthy addition to the long list of strong female protagonists across an array of films, her fierceness and courage to do the right thing making her a very compelling character. Kelly Marie Tran, who herself has possessed plenty of courage to stand-up against those who aimed abuse at her over Star Wars, voices Raya with plenty of passion. Awkwafina joins Tran as Sisu, the titular dragon of the piece, and she certainly brings comedic talent to the fore of her character, Sisu not just a joke machine though and offering up poignant life lessons that kids and adults alike could do with adhering to.
The animation being as stunning as ever from Disney makes some of the action sequences come to life with such energy and it really does make for one hell of an adventure. I've mentioned the lack of songs in Raya and the Last Dragon but it doesn't take anything away from the film, in fact James Newton Howard's brilliant score only adds more adventure and emotion to proceedings. 

Coming to Disney+ via Premier Access makes Raya and the Last Dragon the perfect film for the whole family to settle down on the sofa with. It really is another sure-fire hit from Disney, something no other animation studio can match.

Verdict: ★★★★


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