Disney released its latest trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon two days ago. The movie is directed by Don Hall, Carlos Lopez Estrada, Paul Briggs, and John Ripa. The movie stars Kelly Marie Tran as Raya.
The trailer opens with Raya, the protagonist, in a notorious metropolis. It immediately sets the light-hearted, warm tone a Disney movie is expected to have. Raya is conned by a baby and her criminal friends which leads to an impressive chase scene that climaxes in a funny slow motion effect. Raya subsequently recruits the con baby and her gang.
A voice-over by Raya introduces us to the world. A war amongst the lands and their inhabitants have raged on for as long as can be remembered. The following scene features a flashback of Raya’s father with her as he declares his faith in a future where the lands will be at peace again, “but someone has to take the first step.” Her father appears to be dead now and obviously, the responsibility now falls upon Raya. This explains why she has been recruiting a team. In a quick series of shots, more interesting characters are recruited. And finally, the villain appears.
Raya finds the lost dragon, stating in a voice-over that she has been searching for six years. However, in a humorous twist, the dragon, voiced by Awkwafina, is nowhere near what Raya imagined it would be. The dragon itself states, “Ah, I am gonna be real with you I’m not like the best dragon. Have you ever done like a group project but there is like that one kid who didn’t pitch in as much but still ended up with the same grade?” Cricket silence. Then Raya goes, “Uhhh, we are doomed.” Afterwards, she has a tease fight with the villain that feels so much like a fight scene from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
This trailer sets the movie up finely to be another classic Disney movie. The template used for movies like Moana is evident here. An exotic character in an exotic looking world with a mythical saviour of questionable existence that must be woken to save the land. A travel buddy (or buddies in this case) is recruited along the way and it will be revealed at some point that the rumoured-as-extinct-mythical saviour to be rescued is not what/who it is supposed to be. A big bad battle ensues that gives way to the return of peace. Rinse, repeat, tweak the format a bit and you have maybe three or four modern Disney movies—often inspired by various tribes all over the world. Raya follows this pattern as well—the story has a Southeast Asian origin.
However, Raya, unlike the usual Disney female lead, is an adult confident in her decisions and more than capable of defending herself and taking charge of her goals—she is unafraid and fierce. The apparent motif this movie will uphold, as gleaned from the trailer, is trust. There will be badassery, sword fights, attempts at funny one-liners, magic, friendship, love, and, as mentioned, trust, but most importantly, there will be a warrior princess and a dragon at the heart of it all.
Raya and the Last Dragon will be available in theatres or can be ordered on Disney plus with Premier Access from March 5.