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Raya and the Last Dragon is an American animated film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on March 5, 2021 and is the 59th animated feature in the Disney Animated Canon.

Synopsis[]

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it's up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she'll learn that it'll take more than a dragon to save the world—it's going to take trust and teamwork as well.

Plot[]

500 years prior, Kumandra was a prosperous land when evil spirits called the Druun began to ravage everything. They absorbed souls, turning those into stone. Eventually, the dragons of Kumandra used what was left of their magic to create an orb that warded off the Druun and restored everyone to life, except the dragons who remained turned to stone. The people all wanted the orb's power, which ultimately divided them into tribes based on their placement of a giant river made to resemble a dragon: Fang, Heart, Tail, Spine, and Talon. Heart Tribe acquired the orb and has been guarding it ever since.

500 years later, Chief Benja of the Heart Tribe has been training his daughter Raya to guard the orb. Despite this, he still believes that all the nations will set aside their differences and become Kumandra again. He resolves to invite all the nations over for a feast. Raya ends up befriending the daughter of Chief Virana of the Fang Tribe, Namaari, due to their shared interest in dragons. Namaari gives Raya a dragon pendant, and she, in turn, shows her the location of the orb. However, Namaari betrays Raya, and soon the Fang Tribe attempt to steal the orb. The rest of the tribes find out, and a fight breaks out, resulting in the orb smashing to pieces. The Druun suddenly reawaken as each of the tribes steal a piece. Raya tries to rescue Benja, but he tells her to flee with the piece she has as he turns to stone.

Six years later, Raya has been searching for the end of a stream to summon Sisu, the dragon who supposedly created the orb and the only surviving member of the species, to help her recover the missing orb pieces. She ends up in what is left of the desert-like Tail Tribe and manages to summon Sisu. She admits that she did not create the orb and that her older siblings did, but finds that she can use their powers when she holds onto a piece. They find what is left of the Tail Temple and recover the second piece, with Sisu now gaining the ability to turn into a human. They encounter Namaari and her tribe, but the two manage to escape on a boat driven by a young entrepreneur named Boun, who had lost his family to the Druun. Despite Boun being friendly, Raya refuses to divulge that Sisu is a dragon, nor tell him of her quest, confusing Sisu.

They arrive at the Talon Tribe, who have built their homes over the water to protect themselves against the Druun, as Raya tries to find their leader so that she can reclaim the orb piece. While out in the town, Raya encounters a "con baby" named Little Noi and her trio of monkey-like companions, the Ongis, who adopted her after her mother was lost to the Druun. After a chase, Raya decides to hire them to help her. Sisu goes into town to look for a gift, as she thinks it is better than fighting, only to run into the real tribe leader who threatens her. Raya rescues her and reclaims the piece, allowing Sisu to spew fog and make it back to Boun with Noi and the Ongis joining them.

The group arrives at the Spine Tribe with Raya and Sisu attempting to enter the village. They are caught by Tong, a fearsome warrior who actually does not know what to do with them. Their friends break in and free them, where they are informed of Namaari's arrival. Realizing Tong is the only survivor of Spine, Raya pleads with him to assist her friends to escape while she stalls Namaari. Raya engages in a fight with Namaari and is almost defeated. However, Sisu reverts to her dragon form and fends off Namaari and the Fang Tribe. Before leaving, Namaari is moved by the appearance of Sisu. She returns to Virana to tell her, but she instead demands that she reclaim the pieces and the dragon as she fears that the other tribes will try to take what they have. Back at the boat, Raya finally comes clean to her party about Sisu, and they agree to work together with Tong giving the orb piece he had been guarding and allowing Sisu to gain the ability to summon the rains.

As they get close to the Fang Tribe, Raya suggests breaking in to reclaim the final piece, but Sisu suggests giving them a gift and asking it back. When Raya refuses, Sisu takes her back to what is left of the Heart Tribe and reveals the fate of her siblings. While Sisu did not create the orb, her siblings trusted her enough to do the right thing with it. Raya gives in and decides to give Namaari the dragon pendant as a piece offering so that she can rejoin the rest of the orb pieces. Raya and Sisu meet privately with Namaari, but as soon as she shows the remainder of the orb pieces, Namaari holds a crossbow to them. Sisu tries to talk her down, but Raya, sensing that Namaari will shoot, attacks her, causing Sisu to get hit by the arrow and falls into a river. Namaari flees as the water, which protected the Fang Tribe against the Druun, begins to recede.

The Fang Tribe is attacked by the Druun as Raya enters to confront Namaari, who is grieving Virana's fate at the hands of the Druun. The two fight while Tong, Boun, Noi, and the Ongis rescue the people from the Druun. Raya prepares to strike down Namaari, but she tells her that she has lost everything and does not care anymore. Raya comes to her senses, and she goes to help her friends. Namaari, in turn, helps the group using her orb piece. As the pieces start losing power, they fall into a pit and are surrounded by the Druun. Raya tells them that they need to put the pieces together, but her friends refuse to help Namaari. To show her faith, Raya puts her piece down and allows the Druun to take her. One by the one, the rest follow, with Namaari putting the pieces together and getting consumed by the Druun afterward. The plan works, and the Druun are vanquished as everyone is brought back to life.

The dragons are also brought back to life as they revive Sisu, who thanks Raya for trusting others. Everyone returns to their significant others as Raya returns home to be reunited with Benja. She introduces him to Sisu as all the tribes come together peacefully to celebrate.

Cast[]

Development[]

Raya and the Last Dragon's development goes back to 2017, when Disney shelved Gigantic, a re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk that would've taken place in 15th century Spain and focused on the young hero befriending an 11-year-old giantess. The then-untitled animation project had a November 25, 2020 release date announced when Disney revealed its theatrical release plans through 2022.

Release[]

Raya and the Last Dragon was originally scheduled to be released on November 25, 2020, but due to the 2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic, it was pushed back to March 12, 2021.[1] This was later advanced one week to March 5, 2021, with a simultaneous release on the streaming service Disney+, via paid purchase through its "Premiere Access" service. The film will be made available to all subscribers of Disney+ regardless of a separate purchase on June 4, 2021.[2]

Reception[]

Raya and the Last Dragon has received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently has a Certified Fresh of 96% of critic reviews. On Metacritic the film has received a rating of 76%. On IGN, the film has a rating of 8/10.

Possible Sequel[]

Kelly Marie Tran is on board if Disney were ever to make a queer "Raya and the Last Dragon" sequel. Insider spoke with the actress — who's also known for her portrayal of Rose Tico in the "Star Wars" franchise — on the red carpet of the Hispanic Federation's annual gala in New York City on April 28. While Tran noted that she couldn't speak on behalf of Disney or her fellow actors, she said she would be eager to see her character Raya and Gemma Chan's Namaari get together in a potential follow-up movie or TV series. "I will speak for myself and say I would be overjoyed to explore that in any sort of sequel in any shape or fashion," Tran said. Ultimately, Tran says she's proud of "Raya and the Last Dragon" and says it was "fucking awesome" to portray a character that's both a warrior and technically a princess — even if a sequel doesn't happen.

The movie establishes not just a simple kingdom with a few towns but an entire Southeast Asian-inspired sub-continent known as Kumandra, with five separate kingdoms with their own unique cultures. Raya is a minefield of potential lore, characters, and themes that can be explored! This gives Disney multiple golden opportunities for not just a sequel but possibly even a series they can put on Disney+. Along with exploring the world, Disney could also have a golden opportunity to establish Raya as a potential first queer Disney Princess. Maybe that relationship with Namaari could start off as mending and eventually become something more. Even if the idea of a sequel is a pipedream, Tran is on the side of queer fans who are looking to her character as one of their own. And it’s clear that the opportunity is there for Disney to reach out for, should the company decide to step into Kumandra again.

Trivia[]

  • Raya and The Last Dragon will be Walt Disney Animation Studios' first original animated film since 2016's Zootopia and Moana. And the first time in 5 years that Walt Disney Animation Studios has two films In 2021 since 2016 with Zootopia and Moana.
  • At the end of the credits there is a tribute to over 400 households that came together via the Internet to make this movie during the Covid-19 pandemic. The credits also list 42 babies born to the crew during the movie's production.
  • This is the first Disney animated feature film to be scored by James Newton Howard since Treasure Planet (2002).
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cast members had to record their lines at their own houses while meeting with the directors online through Zoom.
  • The 19th Disney animated feature film to include a female protagonist after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Lady and the Tramp (1955), Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Rescuers (1977), The Little Mermaid (1989), The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Pocahontas (1995), Mulan (1998), Home on the Range (2004), The Princess and the Frog (2009), Tangled (2010), Frozen (2013), Zootopia (2016), Moana (2016), and Frozen II (2019).
  • The 23rd Disney animated feature film to not be a musical of characters breaking into song three or more times at random moments after Bambi (1942) (which only had songs sung in the background), One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) (which was simply a music-musical), The Rescuers (1977), The Black Cauldron (1985), The Great Mouse Detective (1986) (which was simply a music-musical), The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Tarzan (1999) (which only had songs sung in the background), Dinosaur (2000), The Emperor's New Groove (2000) (which only used a musical-like sequence), Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), Lilo & Stitch (2002) (which only had songs sung in the background), Treasure Planet (2002), Brother Bear (2003) (which only had songs sung in the background), Home on the Range (2004) (which only used a musical-like sequence), Chicken Little (2005), The Wild (2006), Meet the Robinsons (2007), Bolt (2008), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), Big Hero 6 (2014), Zootopia (2016), and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) (which only used a musical-like sequence).

Gallery[]

References[]

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External links[]

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