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‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Delivers a New Tough Yet Sensitive Heroine

, | April 21, 2021 | By

Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon, available on digital and DVD-Blu-Ray, gives the world a new heroine with a strong sense of duty and obligation to her father.

The fantasy story centers on the peaceful world of Kumandra, where, in the past, magical dragons and humans lived together in harmony. But when an evil force came on the scene, all the dragons, except one, were turned to stone, as well as any humans that came in contact with the evil force. The one dragon that got away was Sisu (Awkwafina), although her escape is only a bit of mythology. Or was it?

The disruption of the peace led to the land being divided into five separate regions: Heart, Spine, Tail, Fang and Talon, each named after one are of a dragon’s anatomy. The regions were each ruled by individual chiefs.

Chief Benja (Daniel Dae Kim) of Heart -- who's also the guardian of the Dragon Gem -- has a dream to reunite the lands and the people and bring back the harmony of Kumnadra. But greed, combined with the reemergence of the evil force, threatens to keep the lands separated. His daughter Raya (Kelly Marie Train) believes in his dream, and when events dictate she must take the lead, she sets out to find the mythical Sisu.

As a chief's daughter, like the main character in Disney's Moana, Raya could be considered the new Disney princess. And, as with all Disney princesses, she has a sidekick: Tuk Tuk, who's part pill bug and part armadillo.

As with all the other Disney animated films, there are plenty of additional characters that will steal the hearts of viewers. There is a fun little street-smart entrepreneur boy named Boun (Izaac Wang) who joins Raya, Tuk Tuk, and Sisu in this quest.

An adorable little baby named Noi will definitely capture the hearts and tickle the funny bones of viewers. She might be a baby, but she is all con artist. Along with her monkey-like accomplices, the Ongis, they supply a lot of the humor and plenty of help for Raya.

Raya’s dream to fulfill her father’s wishes comes along with plenty of action. She is a tough girl and ready to face any foe in the quest for peace in the land. And if she and her army of altruists fulfill the quest and join the lands and the people in harmony, the stone dragons and humans will come back to life (and that includes Raya's father, who was turned to stone).

Nothing is said about what happened to Raya’s mother, but in many of the Disney animated films, mothers are not in the picture. The love and devotion Raya has for her father is heartening. She takes on plenty of adventure and danger in attempting to make his dream a reality and restore the peaceful land of Kumandra.

Raya and the Last Dragon is another Disney instant classic. It is filled with action, adventure, magic, mystery, drama, humor and a lot of heart. The movie is rated PG for some violence, action and thematic elements, but for the most part it is pretty tame for young viewers.

Click here to find Raya on digital (DVD/Blu-Ray comes May 18), or here to stream it on Disney+ with premier access (plus your membership fee). It becomes available to all Disney+ subscribers on June 4, 2021.


Image: ©2021 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Francine Brokaw is a longtime journalist, covering entertainment, product reviews and travel, and is the host of Beyond the Red Carpet on Village Television and YouTube.

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