With 'Raya,' Disney has their biggest animated action hero to date — and yes, she's still a princess


Chang says the new Disney film Riot, and the last Dragon is not just for kids. He calls it a gorgeously animated fantasy adventure with a hopeful message. For this moment, the movie began streaming on Disney plus today. Ryan and the last Dragon is the lovely moving surprise. Its big selling point is that it's the first Disney animated film to feature Southeast Asian characters. Like so many movies that break ground in terms of representation, it tells a story that's actually woven from reassuringly familiar parts. Didn't mind that in the slightest. The movie directed by the Disney veteran Don Hall and the animation newcomer Carlos Lopez. Estrada brings us into a fantasy world that's been beautifully visualized and populated with engaging characters. And it builds to an emotional climax that I'm still thinking about days later. Story is a little complicated as these stories tend to be It takes place in command Ra and enchanted realm inspired by various Southeast Asian cultures and divided into five kingdoms, named after a dragon's body parts heart Thing, spine, Talyn and tail. Before they became extinct centuries ago. Dragons once roamed the land and served as friendly guardians to humanity. Their magic lives on in a Jule called the Dragon Gym, which is kept in a cave in the heart, but the other four kingdoms covet. It's mighty powers. One day all five factions come together and try to reach a peace agreement. But tensions erupt. Ah fight breaks out, and the gem shatters into five pieces that are scattered across come, Andhra. This opens the doorway to an ancient enemy called Bedroom, a terrible plague that turns people to stone. Actually, a hero must rise and save the day. Her name is Ryan. And she's a young warrior princess from heart voiced by the excellent Kelly Marie Tran from Star Wars. The last Jedi. I Ryan manages to escape the drone, though her father, her body whose leader of heart isn't so lucky. Now Ryan must recover the pieces of the Dragon Jim, reverse the damage and banished that room for good. This is the first time we've seen a brave young character embark on a quest for magical bottles. And Ryan and the last Dragon is rooted in traditional fantasy lore with the Lord of the Rings and game of Thrones being just the most obvious influences. Movies, Intense scenes of sword play and hand to hand combat. Give it a tougher, more grown up field and most Disney animated fantasies. My own young daughter had to cover her eyes a few times. Some other recent Disney princesses, including marijuana, and Elsa Ryan has a bold, adventurous streak and isn't all that interested in romance? Unlike them, she doesn't even have time to sing a song. That said the movie still has plenty of lightness and humor. Screenwriters. Quick win and Adele Limb have provided the usual Disney array of cute critters and lively supporting characters. None of them is more colorful than see Soo Ah friendly water Dragon who is magically resurrected during riots journey. She's the last of her kind, and she has a crucial role to play in the story. She's voiced delightfully by Aquafina doing one of her signature chatterbox comedy routines and selling everyone of ceases and naturalistic wisecracks. In one scene, she touches a piece of the dragon Jim and magically Lights up. Which riots sees as a hopeful sign. You were glowing. Oh, thank you. I use Alan Rivers climb. Maintain my know this'd my little sister office magic. I got that glow in your little sister's much jack. Yet. Every dragon has a unique magic. Okay, What's yours? I am a really strong swimmer. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You touch this gym piece, and it gave you powers. You know what this means? Right? I no longer need a night light. What? No, you're still connected to the jumps. Magic, not means you can still use it to save the world. If we can get all the other Jen pieces, you can reassemble it and, well, the drooling away. And bring my bar back and bring all of commander back Ryan and sees his journey takes them toe. All five kingdoms of command ra all of which are so vivid and transporting, I found myself wishing they really existed. More than I could have at least seen them on a proper movie screen. There's the town of talent, which is built at the edge of a river and the desert wasteland of tail where Ryan and See Soo must enter a cave of obstacles straight out of an Indiana Jones adventure. As the two of them search for more dragon Jim pieces. They, of course, pick up a few friends along the way. There's a street smart boy who cooks a mean shrimp Con ji and a toddler pickpocket, whom I found more creepy than cute. The movie's most intriguing character is no Mari arrival. Princess from Fang, who's voiced by Gemma Chan. As a side note. Chan and Aquafina both appeared in crazy rich Asians, which, like this movie was co written by Adele Limb. Mari and Roya used to be friends until the fight over the dragon Jim rip them apart. Now they're bitter enemies, and their emotional dynamic is fierce and complicated in ways that relationships are rarely allowed to be in Children's animated films, especially between women. Contrast, See, Sue is all feel good vibes. She's a dragon, after all, with little understanding of how treacherous humans can be. She doesn't get by riot and the Mari distrust each other so why they can't just set their differences aside and defeat the drone together. It's Caesar's sincerity and purity of heart. That makes the stories finale so unexpectedly stirring, especially now. Our fates are closely bound together. It reminds us as it builds a case for forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual sacrifice. The emotional power of riot and the last dragon sneaks up on you. Its lessons aren't knew exactly, but it makes you feel like you're learning them for the first time. Justin

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