Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is about to become the superhero of the South Pacific in Disney’s new animated feature Moana. Co-Directors John Musker and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Princess and the Frog) were joined on stage by Johnson himself as they unveiled the new feature and some story elements today (August 15) at Disney’s annual expo D23.
Moana, set 2000 years ago in the South Pacific, tells the story of a rebellious teenage girl whose adventurous spirit is encouraged by her Grandmother who tells her tales of Maui (Dwayne Johnson), described by the filmmakers as “Sort of the superhero of the South Pacific”. Musker and Clements showed excitement to animate the larger-than-life character as they described Maui’s ability to bring some of his tribal tattoos to life and the power to transform into various birds.
Not to mention the giant “mighty, magical fishhook” he use as weapon which was revealed in a handful of pre-production artwork during the press conference. Johnson went on the reference his half-black/half-Samoan heritage, which is widely known and celebrated amongst wrestling fans with The Rock coming from a long line of talented Samoan wrestlers. Expressing the importance, “to tell a story inspired by the South Pacific is a great honour“.
Moana’s test footage and artwork look to use nature as a metaphor for the environment fighting back against its human oppressors – seen via the perceived villain of the feature, a “vengeful land spirit” hidden in the guise of a living island, complete with dark rocky features expressing a female face with lava for long flowing hair and long claw like fingers holding Moana in her tight grasp.
With recent success of Merida (Brave 2012) and Elsa (Frozen 2013), Disney looks to continue the trend of young, spirited and empowered female leads who look to take their destiny into their own hands – almost certainty racking in the big bucks along with it. Moana opens on November 23, 2016.