Have you ever thought about being a lone rider in a dystopian world trying to save the one you love the most? A world broken because of fear. Raya and the Last Dragon is a movie released in 2021 produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios that captures your attention with beautiful, vivid images. It is a very realistic movie that is in many ways the same as our world. The theme in this movie is to have trust in people and that when we work together we are stronger. This movie, directed by Don Hall and Carlos López, has many flaws, but the theme is what really makes it worth watching.
It starts off by showing us Raya, the main character, riding through a desert alone in an empty world. We then get to see a flashback of her childhood which shows us how her father, Chief Benja of Heart, deemed her worthy to be a guardian of the dragon gem. Raya then explains how the five lands, Heart, Talon, Tail, Spine, and Fang were all connected once as Kumandra. The people of Kumandra lived happily with the dragons only to have a horrible monster called the Druun come and turn everything they touched into stone, including the dragons. Then Sisudatu, the last dragon, combined her powers with her siblings to create the dragon gem and blasted the Druun away. Everyone who was turned to stone came back--except the dragons, and all that was left of Sisu was her gem which humans fought to possess. 500 years later, a war broke out between the five lands, and the dragon gem was broken into five pieces. Each land took one. That also brought back the Druun who turned Raya’s father into stone.
In the flashback, we see that the war between the five lands started because Chief Benja trusted that the five lands would want to come together and become Kumandra again. Raya decides to trust her father and makes friends with Nammari, the princess of Fang, who tells her that Sisu might still be alive at one of the ends of the many rivers. Out of trust, Raya brings Nammari to the place where the dragon gem was placed only to find Nammari using her to get the dragon gem. In the process of taking it, they break the gem. From that point forward, Raya begins looking for Sisu and the rivers’ ends so that she can find some way to revive her father.
This movie has a great theme, but there is still more to it! This movie connects a lot to the real world. We often don’t trust each other because of fears, traumatic events, or betrayals in our past. Perhaps the Druun doesn’t just exist in Raya’s world but also ours. The Druun is like a part of us that doesn’t trust anybody and is full of hate and fear instead of trust and love. The point of this movie is to show us that we need to overcome our inner Druun to be really successful and content in our lives. It also does a good job of showing two characters who are surprisingly similar, but not exactly the same. Chief Benja, Raya’s father, was a very hopeful and brave person who thought he could bring together the world by taking the first step. He was unfortunately turned to stone before he could tell Raya, but then Sisu came along and finished the job for him. Sisu was the one that finally got Raya to trust their greatest enemy and to take the first step in saving the world. Chief Benja and Sisu both have a selfless and hopeful personality, despite the fact that one is a dragon and the other is a human. It is very entertaining to see how a human and a dragon can be so similar and how a movie can connect so much to our world, which is why you should watch this movie and experience these things yourself.
While this movie has many good things, there are also some bad sides to it. One of the bad things is that the movie moved at a very fast pace. Every event, whether it is happy or sad, doesn't give you any time to feel with the character. After each heartbreaking event, there is no time to stop and soak up all the sadness, and it is hard to feel what the main character is feeling. Even in happy or funny scenes, we don’t have time to feel the moment of joy or the feeling of accomplishment a character is feeling. Sisu, the last dragon in this movie, also seems to act too quickly, which makes the movie seem kind of silly and unwise. For example, on their ride to Spine, Raya just told Sisu how there is no point in trusting anyone because the world is broken. When their ship gets to Spine, Sisu races in front of Raya so she can show her that people can be trusted and ends up being trapped. This move is silly and unwise because Sisu has been asleep for 500 years and knows nothing about what happened and how mean people can act.
Despite the fast pace of this movie, it still shows the theme very clearly, which is why you should watch this movie. Even though we did not have time to feel the world inside the movie with the main characters, we still see very clearly how Raya transformed after she was revived by taking the first step to show her friends the importance of trust. In the end, she saw what her father (as well as Sisu) wanted her to do and helped them make their dreams come true. She saved the people of her world, and she saved the people she loved most. Raya and the Last Dragon is a story of our world that has been changed into a more fantastical version.