Raya and the Last Dragon Review

Never fear; there are no spoilers here!

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Disney’s newest animated film, Raya and the Last Dragon. I was thrilled to learn that it was coming to Disney+ at the same time it would be in theaters, and then slightly bummed when they announced it was another premier access film- meaning it cost an extra $30 to watch.

After considering using our theater gift cards and attending a screening while masked up, I decided instead on the Disney+ version. We live in an area with a lot of anti-maskers, our governor never issued a state mask mandate, and sitting in a theater with a lot of potentially unmasked people would make my anxiety shoot through the roof and distract me from the amazing film. I also greatly appreciate that Disney told us when Raya would be available to all Disney+ subscribers, right on the Raya listing:

So if $30 isn’t in your budget or your kids aren’t begging you, you can wait until June 4 to watch. However, I found it was totally worth the $30. This film is incredible. If you haven’t heard of this film yet, here’s the trailer:

Normally I’d summarize the plot without spoilers, but I can’t think of a way to do that. This film contains a lot of twists and turns, and to prevent myself from accidentally giving one away, I’m going to let the trailer speak for itself.

Aside from being completely visually stunning (which it is) the story is incredible. The characters are well developed and interesting. In Raya, we have a strong, flawed female lead who has her own inner battles as well as actual fight scenes. Namaari is another strong female character, as is Sisu. We also have a lot of gender stereotypes flipped- a young boy who is a chef, a supposed tough guy with a soft heart, a wise yet naive father, and women with all kinds of character traits.

Additionally, this cast is primarily Asian, as are the voice actors. To see these strong Asian women and men working to save the world is absolutely incredible. Representation is vital, and I’m ecstatic that we have another animated film that showcases a variety of cultures and races.

There are a few warnings I want to give. My kids are 5 and a half and 8 at this moment, and they were both excited to watch this movie. My 8 year old did fine, and hasn’t had any trouble. But my 5 year old was frightened of the villain, and covered his eyes at certain parts. He’s also mentioned being frightened at bedtime the two nights since we watched the film. So be prepared going in that the villain is quite scary. There’s also a lot of emotional turmoil, from kids and parents being separated to physical fight scenes to a deeply emotional moment. I sobbed in this movie, y’all. Now, I cry at most Disney movies the first time I see them (In Moana, with Tala’s death and visit later; Frozen II, the whole thing, etc). I don’t think my kids cried, but I cried a lot. So brace yourself.

Our whole family absolutely loved this movie. It’s one we keep talking about, days after we watched it. We all want to watch it again, and I can see it being a regular family movie night choice that I won’t tire of.

Have you watched Raya and the Last Dragon? What did you think?

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