Movie Review on “Raya and the Last Dragon”

Don’t worry there are no movie spoilers in this article, so read on!

With most movie theaters closed because of the COVID-19 epidemic, how can you watch Pixar’s newest movie Raya and the Last Dragon? You can wait until theaters open, or upgrade your Disney+ subscription to Disney+ Premier, which gives you unlimited access to the movie. With the upgrade, you can watch it as many times as you want, invite your family, friends, or anyone else from your Covid-pod and enjoy a home-cooked meal instead of the overpriced popcorn and sugary fizzy drinks. You can also ask your hacker brother to hook you up, that is, if you are ok with low-quality bootlegs, but I don’t recommend this option.

Raya is a feast to the eyes and a taste of Southeast Asian culture. Pixar has again utilized its innovative technology and diverse talents of engineers and artists.  Similar to other Pixar productions, like Moana or Frozen, Pixar sent its artists throughout Southeast Asia to understand the cultures and experience the tropical and island-faring environments.

Raya is a story about unity and this movie brings different cultures of Southeast Asia together under one production. One aspect of unity is the weapons throughout the movie. Raya’s first set of weapons are the dual-Arnis. She fights and unlocks the treasure door with a burned pair of Rattan Arnis. Later she wields a short-sword, also known as a kris, which has a distinct ocean wave-like blade. This design mimics the waves of the ocean and is commonly found throughout this tropical region. The curvy blade is designed to pierce and re-open the wound with each penetrating thrust. Her opponents are also armed with this distinct blade pattern attached to short dagger handles and long bamboo.

The karambit and its many derivatives are other weapons that you will see in the film. The karambit is a tiger claw-shaped blade with a handle usually made from a carabao’s horn. The karambit also originated in Southeast Asia and is believed to have been first a farmer’s tool before it was weaponized by farmers.

However, the greatest weapon that Raya possesses is her belief in unity. Once Raya, realizes that the weapons prevent unity, she is able to defeat the enemy. The weapons in the movie symbolize the hurdles people face to reach unity.

Although the world of Raya is fictitious, its message is universal. Empathy leads to trust and trust brings understanding which leads to unity. And unity is the greatest weapon against any challenge.

I highly recommend subscribing to the Disney+ membership which allows you to watch this movie as many times as you want and also access to all of Disney’s movie lines from Marvel, Lucasfilm, Starwars, National Geographic, and Pixar. (You’ll need to upgrade to the Disney+ Premier to watch Raya now, or you can wait until June 2021 when it will be released on the basic Disney+ subscription.)

The Raya and the Last Dragon storyline is complicated compared to other Pixar films. There is a lot of serious dialogue, which can lose the interest of some of the audience members, especially children. But regardless if you are young or old, Raya will inspire you.

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