new animated film Raya and the Last Dragon is an acceptable kiddie
adventure, but it lacks the spark of Disney's best.
Raya (voiced by The Last Jedi's Kelley
Marie Tran) lives in a magical kingdom split into five squabbling territories.
Generations earlier, the kingdom was saved from a malevolent force by dragons,
which are now extinct. Not surprisingly, the evil force returns, so Raya must bring
the last dragon back to life and the help territories to trust each other
in order to save themselves.
At 115 minutes, Raya and the Last
Dragon goes on too long for a children's adventure. The first act is
heavily laden with exposition, and even when the meandering pace picks up, it's
merely fine instead of thrilling. The movie's biggest asset is Awkwafina (from
2019's excellent The Farewell) as the voice of the dragon. Hyped as a
mystical world-saving creature in the first act, she later describes herself as,
"You know that kid who got a good grade on the group project even though they
didn't really do anything? That was me."
Raya and the Last Dragon is currently in theaters, as well as available online with a Disney+ subscription AND an additional $30 fee.