FILM REVIEW | Raya and the Last Dragon

Disney princesses have come a long way in the almost 100 years since Snow White waltzed onto screens.

From damsels who needed saving to independent women fighting for the greater good, it seems Disney's leading ladies are moving with the times.

The latest princess, Raya, is definitely more in line with the likes of Mulan and Moana - strong women driven by a desire to help their people and protect their lands.

Raya and the Last Dragon is a stunning, sweeping epic of a Disney film which features some of the most beautifully designed imagery in the Disney catalogue.

Set in a fictional south-east Asian nation called Kumandra, the film kicks off with an already divided land turning against each other more drastically than ever before.

Raya (voiced by Star Wars' Kelly Marie Tran) is the princess of Heart, one of the five regions within Kumandra named after different parts of a dragon, along with Talon, Fang, Tail and Spine.

Different kind of princess: Kelly Marie Tran voices Disney's latest princess in the stunningly designed new adventure Raya and the Last Dragon, in cinemas and streaming on Disney+ with Premier Access now. Picture: Disney

Different kind of princess: Kelly Marie Tran voices Disney's latest princess in the stunningly designed new adventure Raya and the Last Dragon, in cinemas and streaming on Disney+ with Premier Access now. Picture: Disney

After a betrayal by the princess of Fang accidentally releases a terrible plague which turns the people of Kumandra to stone, Raya spends years determined to find the last dragon of legend, Sisu.

And find Sisu she does, setting the pair on another journey to recover the last dragon gems to fight off the plague.

Sisu is voiced by the always hilarious Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) and is immediately likeable. A beacon of positivity and hope, it's not hard to see why the people of Kumandra have long worshipped the dragon.

The film is action-packed, with exciting chase and fight sequences, but also incredibly beautiful. Each frame of the film could stand alone as a piece of art.

The landscapes created within the five regions are awe-inspiring and the creatures, from dragon Sisu to the outrageously adorable Tuk-Tuk (a sort of giant armadillo/dog hybrid), are just begging to be made into stuffed toys for the Disney merchandise machine.

But at its heart Raya and the Last Dragon is a story about the importance of trust, hope and forgiveness, even in the face of rage, fear and danger.

Don't miss the beautiful short film Us Again which runs ahead of the main event in cinemas.

Rating: 8/10

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