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Raya and the Last Dragon

2021 Disney fantasy film directed by Don Hall and Carlos L\u00f3pez Estrada

Top 10 Raya and the Last Dragon related articles

Raya and the Last Dragon
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Paul Briggs
  • Don Hall
  • Adele Lim
  • Carlos López Estrada
  • Kiel Murray
  • Qui Nguyen
  • John Ripa
  • Dean Wellins
Starring
Music byJames Newton Howard
Cinematography
  • Rob Dressel (layout)
  • Adolph Lusinsky (lighting)
Edited by
  • Fabienne Rawley
  • Shannon Stein
Production
companies
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date
  • March 3, 2021 (2021-03-03) (Netherlands)
  • March 5, 2021 (2021-03-05) (United States)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$100 million+[1]
Box office$94.2 million[2][3]

Raya and the Last Dragon (/ˈr.ə/ RYE) is a 2021 American computer-animated fantasy action-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The 59th film produced by the studio, it is directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, co-directed by Paul Briggs and John Ripa,[4] produced by Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho, written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, and music composed by James Newton Howard.[5] The film features a predominantly Asian American cast, including the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu, the dragon, along with Izaac Wang, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Thalia Tran, Lucille Soong, and Alan Tudyk.

Raya and the Last Dragon was theatrically released in the United States on March 5, 2021 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in standard 2D, 3D, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX formats. The film's release was also simultaneously available on Disney+ with Premier Access, which is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic's negative impact towards theatrical releases, with many movie theaters across the United States and other countries being closed.

The film has grossed $94 million worldwide, making it the sixth highest-grossing film of 2021 and received positive reviews from critics, who praised the animation, action sequences, characters, voice acting, and messages, while drawing some criticism for the lack of actual Southeast Asian representation among the film's voice cast.

Raya and the Last Dragon Intro articles: 24

Plot

The prosperous land of Kumandra is ravaged by the Druun, evil spirits that multiply after turning the land's people and dragons to stone. Sisu, the last dragon, concentrates her magic into a gem and banishes the Druun, reviving Kumandra's people but not the dragons. A power struggle for the orb divides Kumandra's people into tribes, based on their placement along a giant, dragon-shaped river: Fang, Heart, Spine, Talon, and Tail.

500 years later, Chief Benja of the Heart tribe has been training his daughter Raya to guard the gem. Firmly believing that the tribes can be united once again, Chief Benja decides to hold a feast for all five tribes. During the feast, Raya befriends the daughter of Chief Virana of the Fang tribe, Namaari. As an act of friendship, Namaari gives Raya a dragon pendant as a gift. Trusting her, Raya shows Namaari the location of the gem but is suddenly betrayed by Namaari who reveals that she is only there to steal it, resulting in a fight between the two. Alerted to the attack, Benja and the other tribes arrive at the scene and start fighting one another over the gem, resulting in it smashing to pieces which resurrects the Druun. As each tribe steals a piece of the orb, the Druun lay waste to the Land of Heart and its people with a wounded Chief Benja getting petrified as well after saving his daughter.

For the next six years, Raya treks across the land to find Sisu in order to help her recover the missing orb pieces. After reaching a ship wreck, Raya finally manages to summon Sisu, who admits that she did not create the orb, but only used it on behalf of her siblings. Sisu also reveals that touching the orb pieces grants her her siblings' powers. They recover the second piece from a ruined, booby-trapped Tail temple, granting Sisu shapeshifting powers; and encounter a hostile Namaari and her tribesmen trying to take back the map Raya stole to find Sisu. Escaping the temple, they escape on the boat of young restaurateur Boun, who lost his family to the Druun. Despite Boun's friendliness, Raya does not fully trust him. During the boat ride, Sisu explains the origins of the Druun and their weakness for water.

The group arrives at Talon to claim the third gem piece, during which Raya encounters baby con-artist Noi and her trio of monkey-like companions, the Ongis, who adopted her after the Druun petrified her family. After a chase, Raya recruits Noi and the Ongis. Sisu goes into the marketplace and encounters Talon's chieftess, who sinisterly offers her to the Druun for the other orb pieces. Raya rescues Sisu and reclaims the third piece, which allows Sisu to spew out fog which aids in their escape. The group then arrives at Spine, where they meet Tong, a fearsome warrior, and the village's sole survivor. Namaari arrives and Raya holds her off in a fight while the others escape. Before Namaari is able to defeat her, Sisu saves Raya before leaving with the group for Fang, with Tong handing over Spine’s gem piece, giving Sisu power over rain.

As the group get closer to Fang, Sisu suggests allying with Namaari rather than stealing the final piece, in order to show trust and good-will. When Raya refuses, Sisu takes her back to the remains of the Heart and tells of how her siblings' trust in her was what really empowered her to save Kumandra. Raya relents and decides to give Namaari the dragon pendant as a peace offering. Raya and Sisu meet privately with Namaari, but Namaari, torn by her responsibility to Fang and her wish to help, threatens to shoot them with a crossbow upon seeing the orb pieces. Sisu tries to calm Namaari down but is fatally shot when Raya lashes out at Namaari. Sisu falls into the river below which begins to evaporate at the death of the last dragon.

With the water gone, Fang is overrun by the Druun. Raya enters to confront Namaari, whom she finds to be mourning over the petrification of her mother. The two fight while Raya's companions rescue the people of Fang using the gem pieces. Raya, besting Namaari, prepares to kill her, but stops upon realizing her fault in Sisu’s death due to her inability to trust others. Raya and Namaari rush to aid the group in rescuing Fang’s people. As the Druun advance toward Raya's group, Raya remembers Sisu's tale of how trust allowed her to save the world. Raya urges the others to come together and reassemble the gem, but her friends refuse to forgive Namaari after Sisu's death. To show her faith, Raya hands Namaari her piece and allows the Druun to take her. The rest follow suit, with Namaari assembling the gem before the Druun petrifies her as well.

With the gem reassembled and everyone trusting each other at last, the dragons' magic is finally able to manifest at its full power, vanquishing the Druun and freeing everyone, including the dragons, from their curse. As Raya and her companions rejoice, the dragons arrive and revive Sisu. Everyone reunites with their lost loved ones, including Raya and her father. The dragons and the tribes gather at Heart to celebrate and finally reunite as Kumandra.

Raya and the Last Dragon Plot articles: 2

Voice cast

  • Kelly Marie Tran as Raya, the fierce and courageous warrior princess of Kumandra's Heart Land who has been training to become a Guardian of the Dragon Gem.[6] To restore peace to Kumandra, she embarks in search for the last dragon.[7][8]
  • Awkwafina as Sisu, the last dragon in existence. She has a wacky and somewhat insecure personality, but she is also brave, kind and wise.[9]
  • Izaac Wang as Boun, a charismatic 10-year-old entrepreneur and owner of the "Shrimporium", a boat restaurant in the Tail Land.[10][11]
  • Gemma Chan as Namaari, the warrior princess of the Fang Land and Raya's enemy.[10][12] Jona Xiao voices young Namaari.[13]
  • Daniel Dae Kim as Chief Benja, the chief of Kumandra's Heart Land and Raya's father.[10]
  • Benedict Wong as Tong, a formidable but kind-hearted warrior giant from the Spine Land.[10]
  • Sandra Oh as Virana, Namaari's mother and the chieftess of the Fang Land.[10]
  • Thalia Tran as Little Noi, an infant con artist from the Talon Land.[10]
  • Lucille Soong as Dang Hu, the chieftess of the Talon Land.
  • Alan Tudyk as Tuk Tuk, Raya's best friend and trusty steed that is a mix of an armadillo and a pill bug.[10]

Additionally, Dichen Lachman voices both General Atitaya and a warrior from Spine; Patti Harrison voices the chief of the Tail Land (making her the first known transgender actor to appear in a Disney animated film[14]); Jon "Dumbfoundead" Park voices Chai; Sung Kang voices Dang Hai, the former chief of Talon; Sierra Katow voices both a Talon merchant and a Fang officer; Ross Butler voices the chief of the Spine Land; François Chau voices Wahn; and Gordon Ip and Paul Yen voice Talon merchants.[10][13] Tania Gunadi was also credited for an unspecified role.

Raya and the Last Dragon Voice cast articles: 7

Production

Development

On May 24, 2018, That Hashtag Show reported that Walt Disney Animation Studios was developing an animated film titled Dragon Empire, which would be the directorial debut of story artists Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins, written by Kiel Murray.[15] In October of the same year, Deadline reported that Adele Lim was hired to retouch the script, and that Osnat Shurer had been hired to produce the movie.[16] On August 24, 2019, Disney officially announced the film during their D23 Expo Walt Disney Animation Studios' presentation panel.[7] In August 2020, it was announced that Don Hall (director of Winnie the Pooh and Big Hero 6) and Carlos López Estrada, the latter who had joined Disney Animation in 2019, were now taking over the reins as directors, with Briggs remaining as co-director and John Ripa joining him. In addition, Qui Nguyen joined Lim as co-writer and Peter Del Vecho joined Shurer as producer.[8][4]

Casting

On August 2, 2019, during the D23 Expo, Awkwafina and Cassie Steele were announced to have been cast in the film as Sisu and Raya, respectively.[7] On August 27, 2020, it was revealed that the role of Raya had been recast, with Kelly Marie Tran replacing Steele.[8] The recasting was due to creative shifts in the character and story.[17]

On the eve of the film's release in March 2021, Hall finally revealed the exact reason for why the production team had decided to recast the lead role: Raya was originally a "stoic loner," but then the team began to infuse her with elements of "levity" and "swagger" similar to the character of Star-Lord in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).[18] Tran was selected for her "lightness and buoyancy, but also badassery [sic]."[18] Tran had to go through a process of learning to trust the production team, since she had participated in the original round of auditions for Raya, without success. By January 2020, when she stepped into the role formerly occupied by Steele, she was well aware that Disney Animation "had already turned her down and removed another actor from the project."[19]

On January 26, 2021, it was announced that Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Soong, Patti Harrison, and Ross Butler all have parts in the film.[20]

Animation

The film is set in a fantasy land called Kumandra, inspired by the Southeast Asian cultures of Brunei, Singapore, Laos, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.[21][22][23] To do background research, the filmmakers and production team traveled to all these countries except Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.[24][25][26][27] Thai artist Fawn Veerasunthorn served as the head of story for the film.[28] The filmmakers formed the Southeast Asia Story Trust, a collective of cultural consultants for the film which included Dr. Steve Arounsack, an associate professor of Lao Anthropology at California State University, Stanislaus.[29]

Raya and the Last Dragon Production articles: 22

Music

James Newton Howard composed the score for Raya and the Last Dragon.[5] The film marks the fourth time he has scored an animated film by Walt Disney Animation Studios, having previously composed for Dinosaur, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Treasure Planet. The score was released on February 26, 2021. Jhené Aiko wrote and performed a song for the end-credits, titled "Lead the Way".[30]

On March 2, 2021, Disney Studios Philippines announced that Filipina singer KZ Tandingan will be singing Disney’s first-ever Filipino-language song, titled "Gabay",[31] which means "guide" in English. The track, the Filipino version of "Lead the Way," will be part of the film's soundtrack. Allie Benedicto, studio marketing head of Disney Philippines said that "Gabay", the first-ever Disney track sung in Filipino, "demonstrates our commitment to work with local creative talents to tell our stories in a locally relevant manner."[32] In a press release about the song's announcement, KZ Tandingan said, “I am very grateful and I feel very proud to be singing in my language, and show off its beauty to the rest of the world. I am proud to be part of history. I grew up watching Disney movies. Finally, there is a Disney Princess who I can feel a very strong connection to, and that is Raya as the first one inspired by Southeast Asia."[33] “I love that the song reminds us that sometimes we feel we are weak, especially when we are alone, but if we just learn to trust each other, to come together, and to unite, only then are we able to change the world,” she added.[32]

Track Listing

All lyrics are written by James Newton Howard, except where noted.

No.TitleLength
1."Lead the Way (Performed by Jhene Aiko)"3:44
2."Prologue"5:44
3."Young Raya and Namaari"3:26
4."Betrayed"4:35
5."Search for the Last Dragon"1:13
6."Into the Shipwreck"2:52
7."Enter the Dragon"0:53
8."Fleeing from Tail"1:22
9."Captain Boun"1:02
10."Journey to Talon"1:19
11."Sisu Swims"1:45
12."Dragon Graveyard"2:54
13."Escape from Talon"3:43
14."Noi and the Ongis"2:33
15."Being People is Hard"4:05
16."Spine Showdown"3:27
17."Running on Raindrops"2:11
18."Plans of Attack"1:16
19."Brothers and Sisters"3:58
20."The Meeting"3:19
21."Storming Fang"4:09
22."The Druun Close In"2:59
23."Return"4:58
24."The New World"2:36
Total length:64:11

Raya and the Last Dragon Music articles: 5

Release

Theatrical and streaming

Raya and the Last Dragon was originally scheduled to be released in the United States on November 25, 2020.[7] However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film's release was delayed to March 12, 2021.[34] On December 10, 2020, as part of Disney's Investor Day presentation, it was announced that the film's theatrical release date was pushed up by a week to March 5, 2021, along with the film being simultaneously released on Disney+ with Premier Access the same day.[35] Raya and the Last Dragon will be available for purchase through Premier Access until May 4, 2021, and will be made available for free to all subscribers on June 4.[36] In theaters, the film was accompanied by a new short film, Us Again.[37]

Home media

Raya and the Last Dragon was released on Digital HD by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on April 2, 2021, with DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray releases set to follow on May 18, 2021.[38]

Raya and the Last Dragon Release articles: 5

Reception

Box office

As of April 4, 2021, Raya and the Last Dragon has grossed $32.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $62 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $94.2 million.[2][3]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Chaos Walking and Boogie, and was initially projected to gross around $6.5 million from 2,045 theaters in its opening weekend.[39] However, after making $2.5 million on its first day, thanks in-part to the re-opening of New York City theaters, weekend estimates were raised to $8.3 million. It went on to debut to $8.5 million, topping the box office.[40][1] Three theater chains, Cinemark and Harkins in the United States alongside Cineplex in Canada, did not run the film after declining Disney's rental terms, which led to Raya and the Last Dragon failing to match the opening weekend grosses of The Croods: A New Age and Tom & Jerry, two other animated films released amid the pandemic. Parents and kids made up a combined 52% of the opening weekend audience (with 57% being female), with 37% being non-Hispanic White, 22% Black, 21% Asian, and 20% Hispanic.[40][39] The film made $5.5 million in its second weekend and $5.2 million in its third, remaining atop the box office.[41][42]

Critical response

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 94% of 269 critics have given the film a positive review with an average rating of 7.70/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Another gorgeously animated, skillfully voiced entry in the Disney canon, Raya and the Last Dragon continues the studio's increased representation while reaffirming that its classic formula is just as reliable as ever."[43] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100 based on 46 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[44] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 92% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 78% saying they would recommend it.[40]

Writing for IndieWire, Kate Erbland gave the film a grade of B+ and said, "As the Disney princess brand has continued to evolve, from the introduction of newbies like Moana to the continuing popularity of classics like Tiana and Mulan, Raya and the Last Dragon is a sterling example of how the trope still has room to grow — while proving that some of the original ingredients can still deliver the goods."[45] David Fear of Rolling Stone gave the film 3.5/5 stars and praised Tran and Awkwafina's vocal performances, saying: "...while the action-set pieces and stand-offs and Raya–ders of the Lost Ark sequences are indeed thrilling, it's the buddy-comedy aspect that actually makes the movie come alive."[46]

The Observer's Simran Hans gave the film four out of five stars, praising its animation and Awkwafina's voice performance, which she compared to Eddie Murphy's Mushu and Robin Williams' Genie.[47] While praising the film's world-building and attention to detail, Shirley Li of The Atlantic opined that subordinating the story to world building muddied the film's message.[48] Besides complimenting the film's animation, the SFGate's Julie Tremaine praised the film's characterization of Tran's character as a powerful woman and "regular person, with wits and heart, trying to make a difference" rather than a character endowed with special powers or one needing a prince to save her.[49]

The film was criticized for the lack of Southeast Asian representation in the cast, as the film's setting is set in a fictional land that represents Southeast Asia.[50] Most of the cast are of East Asian heritage, with the exception of K. Tran, Butler, T. Tran, Wang and Harrison.[51][52][53] A. Felicia Wade of DiscussingFilm pointed this out in her review, commenting on the disheartening lack of accurate representation in the vocal cast and the fact that it "misses the mark at its core."[54]

Raya and the Last Dragon Reception articles: 20

Sequel

The mentioning of a sequel comes from Kelly Marie Tran, voice of Raya, who holds the hope that Disney will proceed with a lesbian relationship between Raya and Namaari, stating that she intentionally provided in-character hints of their romantic interest in each other during an interview with Vanity Fair, in the form of Raya's line “Hey there, Princess Undercut. Fancy meeting you here.”[55][56] Tran also stated that in the case of a sequel or spin-off being greenlit, that she would "absolutely be interested" in reprising her role as Raya.[56]

Raya and the Last Dragon Sequel articles: 2

References

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  29. ^ Raya and the Last Dragon: Creating Disney's First Southeast Asian-Centered Movie - IGN, retrieved February 6, 2021
  30. ^ ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Sneak Peek Features Original Song by Jhené Aiko
  31. ^ "KZ Tandingan to sing Disney's first-ever Filipino-language song for 'Raya and the Last Dragon'". NME. March 2, 2021.
  32. ^ a b "KZ Tandingan sings Disney's first Filipino song, 'Gabay'". Rappler. March 2, 2021.
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  42. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 21, 2021). "L.A. Weekend Box Office Clears $1M+; Kelly Marie Tran & Carlos Lopez Estrada Welcome 'Raya' El Capitan Fans As Pic Posts Firm No. 1 Hold – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
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  50. ^ January 2021, Laura Sirikul 26. "Disney's 'Raya and The Last Dragon' has a bit of an East Asian problem". whattowatch.com. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
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  52. ^ "Disney's 'Raya and the Last Dragon' sparks mixed reactions on Asian representation". NBC News. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
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  54. ^ Wade, A. Felicia. "'Raya and the Last Dragon' Review – Kelly Marie Tran Dares to Defy". DiscussingFilm. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  55. ^ Joanna Robinson (March 5, 2021). "Raya and the Last Dragon's Kelly Marie Tran Thinks Her Disney Princess Is Gay". Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  56. ^ a b Anna Menta (March 5, 2021). "Kelly Marie Tran Wanted A Raya/Namaari Romance in 'Raya and the Last Dragon': "I Was the First Person To Ship It!"". Retrieved March 28, 2021.

External links