Movie Reviews

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

raya-and-last-dragon-movie-review-2021Director: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure, Family

Runtime: 107 Minutes

Main Cast: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Alan Tudyk, Jona Xiao

Plot: Many years ago in the land of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. When an evil force threatened their lives, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save the humans, leaving behind a powerful stone that turned the humans against each other. Raya’s father tried to unite them all but failed, leaving Kumandra’s fate in Raya’s hands.

My Thoughts:  I really hope this is the last time I have to watch a new Disney movie in my living room instead of on the big screen, it’s just not the same. Also, is it just me or has Raya and the Last Dragon had virtually no marketing? I don’t watch regular TV to see adverts there but I’ve heard nothing on the radio, seen no posters on buses or billboards, nothing at all. So if you read reports on how Tom and Jerry (2021) is beating this at the box office, don’t for a second think that it’s because Raya is a bad movie. I don’t think it’s up there with the instant classic Disney movies, but it’s still great.

It’s biggest strength lies with its characters. Raya is instantly likable and she’s fearless. As with most Disney movies, the sidekicks are the scene-stealers. Sisu the dragon made me laugh every time she was on screen, Awkwafina did such a great job voicing her. Izaac Wang voices a young boy named Boun, an energetic kid left fending for himself whilst running a restaurant on a boat. He’s so lively! And I haven’t even mentioned half of the supporting cast yet.

Raya and the Last Dragon has some strong Moana vibes to it, but I can’t help but compare it to Onward. Both great animated Disney movies, both with enthralling characters and a stunning fantasy world. But both are missing that extra bit of magic that’s stopping them from being great. Once the disaster had taken place and Raya’s mission was clear, it felt like a quite generic adventure movie. Travel to each location, get the piece of stone, restore the peace, and so on. It’s a fun journey but there aren’t any surprises along the way.


Best Bit: I thought Raya’s little rag tag gang couldn’t get any better. Then they added a con-artist baby and I lost my mind. After that, they got a big ol’ brute join them and don’t even try to tell me he wasn’t one of the regulars at the Ugly Duckling from Tangled!

Worst Bit: If having to watch this at home instead of the cinema wasn’t bad enough, I had to suffer through my husband making terrible jokes whilst half-watching the movie and half playing his Playstation. “I hope her Dad doesn’t lose his…chiseled chin!” Ughhhhh!

Fun Trivia: The land of Kumandra is inspired by the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Laos.

My Rating: Three and a half tomatoes I wish I had to hand to throw at the back of my husband’s head.


8 thoughts on “Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

  1. Great review, this sounds fantastic. I’ve seen several ads for it (I live in Southeast Asia) and am really keen to see this for the cultural influences. It’s always nice to see familiar traditions featured in films! 🙂


  2. I really, really want to see this but after they straight up put Mulan for sale after only a month here (for less money and with all the special features!) I’m holding out.

    I do think marketing is a little bit of a problem at least where theaters are concerned in the states. So many people aren’t even sure if there’s were open and than some cinemas are and some didn’t and people aren’t sure of the restrictions. I think Hollywood will probably do well to market the movies and the theater experience again as things really gear up.


    1. Yeah, I read a funny tweet or mini review somewhere making funof the irony of this new Disney movie having a loud message of kindness and sharing, and then having the nerve to charge a premium for anyone wanting to watch it! It was worth the watch for me, but I don’t think you’re missing out on anything amazing waiting for the price tag to be taken away.
      I’m going to be so happy the day I can go back to a cinema and see a bunch of trailers! It’s only from following other bloggers that I know about new movies now.


  3. I’m honestly surprised at the little marketing Disney’s done for Raya and the Last Dragon!! I mean, you’d think the diversity factor is something to be proud of. Oh well, glad you saw this and enjoyed it, Allie. Ahahahaha, too funny about your hubby making a comment about Raya’s dad’s dimpled chin!! I think his face is based on Daniel Dae Kim and he’s so gorgeous! 😀


    1. Exactly Ruth! Pixar used every single opportunity to shout about Soul so I don’t get why Raya has had such a stealth release.
      Honestly you should never watch a movie with my husband, he either calls out plot twists before you’ve even twigged something might happen or he makes terrible jokes during emotional scenes!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do want to see this, but I’ll wait until it’s not a premium feature on Disney +. I’m happy Kelly Marie Tran is getting roles though and I hope I enjoy this too.


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