In our world today, it can be a challenge to trust people. However, stories and movies can bring us closer together by reminding us of the humanity that we share. Raya and the Last Dragon is a newly released Disney animation film filled with action, adventure, stunning animation, and captivating instrumental music. Most importantly, this movie attempts to encourage people to find goodness in everyone’s hearts.
The movie is set in Kumandra, an exotic land in Southeast Asia where dragons and people lived together in harmony. Five hundred years ago, the dragons defended the people against an evil force called the Druun. The Druun killed most of the dragons, but the last surviving dragon (Sisu) defeated the Druun when she unleashed the power of a magical Dragon Gem. Sisu disappeared, and the Gem became the only source of magic protecting Kumandra against the Druun. During the next five centuries, the people sought to possess the Gem and even fought against each other to find it. The people divided themselves into five nations, and many people continued to search for the Gem. However, only one nation–Raya’s country–knew the exact location of the Gem.
For centuries, Raya’s family has hidden the Dragon Gem in a temple to protect it against thieves. As a girl living in a broken world, Raya has always viewed the other nations as enemies. However, her father Chief Benja encourages her to trust the other nations. When Raya and Chief Benja invite the other nations to a meeting, representatives from the other nations discover the temple and attempt to steal the Gem. However, they accidentally shatter the Gem and allow the Druun to return. Raya begins a quest to find Sisu and repair the Gem, but she soon discovers that she needs help from other people to save Kumandra.
Although the trailers hint at the movie’s intensity, it’s still worth noting that Raya and the Last Dragon carries a darker tone than many other Disney films, including Zootopia and Frozen II. The movie begins after the Druun returns, so the movie may feel “post-apocalyptic” as characters struggle to protect themselves from each other and from the Druun. The movie is not a musical like many Disney classics. Instead, Raya and the Last Dragon often relies on jokes to lighten the mood.
Despite its tone, Raya and the Last Dragon encourages viewers to have trust in others and to have hope for a brighter future. In the middle of the movie, a character says, “Maybe the world is broken because you don’t trust anyone.” Other characters say, “We can be together again, but someone has to take the first step.” Like other Disney films, this movie presents a beautiful picture of how love and trust can heal the world, but it takes a Christian perspective to complete the picture.
God commands us to love our neighbors (English Standard Version, Mark 12:31) and our enemies (Matthew 5:44) even if they don’t love us back. God also reminds us that we should avoid violence as much as possible, for he who lives by the sword will perish by the sword (Matthew 26:52). However, can you love someone without completely trusting him? Are there different levels of trust? How do you know when to trust others, and what should you do if you’re betrayed? Is the world broken because we don’t trust anyone, or is there a different reason? Can everyone in the world find and remain in perfect harmony with each other, and if so, what needs to happen? The movie may not answer all of these questions, but they are important to consider.
Whether or not you choose to watch this movie, I hope that this review helps you with your decision. The movie was released in theaters on March 5, 2021. The movie can be seen in theaters and on Disney+. During the next few months, only people with a Premier Access subscription can watch this movie on Disney+. However, the movie will be available to all Disney+ subscribers starting on June 4, 2021.
Featured image courtesy of Disney.