Raya and the Last Dragon is Disney’s newest animated film which was released on March 5, 2021.
This film, already critically acclaimed was met with praise in terms of its impeccable visuals, characters, representation and voice acting.
The film casts huge celebrities such as Kelly Marie Tran as Raya, Awkwafina as Sisu, Gemma Chan as Namaari and Izaac Wang as Boun. It is Disney’s 59th animated feature film.
Raya and the Last Dragon was meant to be released last November 2020. But due to the pandemic, it was pushed back to March 12, 2021. Eventually, the release got advanced and was moved to March 5, 2021. The movie is also simultaneously available on Disney’s streaming site – Disney +. To view the movie, it requires a paid purchase through the “Premiere Access” Service, on top of the normal monthly subscription. Raya and the Last Dragon will be made available to all subscribers on June 4, 2021.
The story is about Raya, a warrior princess who was tasked to find the legendary last dragon to be able to save her world from a plague. Her journey landed her with a band of misfits who accompanied her in her quest.
Raya and the Last Dragon had been widely anticipated even before its release. It is Disney’s first Southeast Asian lead and revolves around the culture of these countries. In a time that representation is such a hot topic, Disney is indeed doing it right. To be able to stay true to the culture and tradition of nations in Southeast Asia, Disney established a Southeast Asia Story Trust which is made up of specialists from different fields including linguistics, anthropologists, botanist, architects and martial artists.
Back in the summer of 2018, Disney Animation Studios had been rumored to be developing an animated film temporarily titled Dragon Empire. This film is set to be the directorial debut of Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins, both story artists of the studio. They tapped Adele Lim to develop the screenplay for the movie. Adele was also wrote the screenplay for Crazy Rich Asians, another Asian inspired blockbuster.
Raya and The Last Dragon is the first animated film without the involvement of John Lasseter. He had been incharged of all Pixar and Disney Animation feature film since 2006 after he got appointed as the Chief Creative Officer for both offices.
With that, Amy Lawson Smeed, being the first female head of Animation at Walt Disney Studios, function as the Head of Animation for the film. The decision is perfect since Smeed had worked on amazing feature films such as Moana and Frozen.
Cassie Steele was originally tapped to voice the character of Raya. Steele voices Tammy Guetermann in the animated series Rick and Morty. However, due to many changes and development to the script, they had to recast the voice actor and chose Kelly Marie Tran from Star Wars.
The martial arts technique in the movie is based on Kali, a national martial art form in the Philippines. Being trained in martial arts from an early age, Raya showed her remarkable fighting skills in the film, in order to protect the Dragon Gem.
TukTuk, Raya’s adorable companion and best friend was voices by the legendary Alan Tudyk who voiced numerous films from the Disney and Pixar movies portfolio.
The movie is set on a fantasy kingdom called Kumandra. Kumandra is said to be based on many elements from the Southeast Asian culture. Viewers have noticed Kumandra as the combination of Indonesia, Cambodia and Malaysia with lush greeneries and tropics.
So, have you watched Raya and The Last Dragon yet? I still haven’t, but I am excited to! The biggest question is: Why is Disney Plus not yet available in Southeast Asia?!