Raya and the Last Dragon is one of my most awaited movies. For years I’ve been grasping at every bit of concept art available. A movie created by Disney Animation Studios, featuring a princess, that’s a minority! I’m in. If you’re like me and you’ve been waiting for this premiere for years, I imagine the $30 premiere price tag is worth it to you to stream the movie over and over again. If you’re debating whether it is worth it, or if you should wait until Raya and the Last Dragon is free (or at least included) in a regular Disney Plus subscription. Or maybe you’re wondering ifit’s worth venturing our to the movie theaters to see it. Or if Raya and the last Dragon is scary for little kids. Hopefully this spoiler-free review will help you decide.
Raya and the Last Dragon Review
I’m going to start by sharing a handful of reasons we loved the movie, and then why we didn’t. Good news, bad news if you will. I’ll also address the question of Raya and the Last Dragon being scary for little kids. Perhaps you’re debating seeing it on the big screen or in the comfort of your own home. My family and I will weigh in.
Captivating and Dynamic Characters
Right out of the gate there are characters to fall in love with. Obviously Raya, who we get to see as a young girl, and her father, Chief Benja. Who feels more like a down to earth lovable dad than a big intimidating chief. Then of course Sisu, the last dragon steals the show with her vibrance inside and out. What may surprise you is your pull to love other characters you meet along the way. Even some you consider villains, but even they have reasons for their actions that make you feel for them. I loved the variety of cast and characters that left us all feeling like we had a handful of favorites. Some even surprised us.
Though Raya is most definitely the newest Disney Princess, my 7-year-old son who profusely professes how “princesses are gross”, loved this one. So much so he calls it his new favorite Disney movie.
Beautiful Culture and Diversity
The vibrant colors of the people and the lands that make up Kumandra are what stole my heart right away. Set in a fantasy world inspired by Southeast Asia, the faces and skin tones of the different tribes are strikingly beautiful. We’ve talked a lot about why representation matters here, so this was a big win for Disney in my book. I can only imagine how it feels for people who really see themselves in these characters.
From prayer rituals, respectful bows, food and fighting, there was a lot of beauty to take in. I also loved the idea of people coming together, celebrating our differences and embracing one another. That’s a message I can completely get behind and one I feel is so needed right now.
A Good Lesson for both Children and Adults
I’ll go more into lessons we can learn from Raya and the Last Dragon after you’ve all seen the movie. But for now we’ll focus on the obvious one that you can gather from the trailers and synopsis and that’s trust. As an adult the message felt a little overdone and whacked over my head for the entire film. But as a mother, it was nice to have a movie that was easy enough for my 2-year-old to follow, and my 7 and 10-year-olds to thoroughly enjoy. They weren’t leaning over to ask me a lot of questions about what was happening. And even as Raya journeys through different lands and tribes, each one is labeled on a map and with a title, making a potentially complicated story very easy to follow.
Is Raya worth the $30 premiere access or is it better to wait until it’s free?
I just got finished saying all of these great things about the movie. So obviously it’s worth the premium price tag right? I think that depends. If you’re one of those families that sees every new Disney Movie when it comes out, I’m sure you already have your tickets. If you’re used to your monthly subscription to Disney+ and don’t want to pay a dollar more, I can understand your desire to wait.
My kids LOVED this movie. We’ve already watched it twice and even our youngest one sat through the whole movie and called out for Sisu. I felt like Raya and the Last Dragon was really good, but not great.
I worried from the start when Disney announced Raya and the Last Dragon was not going to be a musical. Not that a Disney movie needs singing to be great, but if you don’t have singing, it needs something else to make up for it. Big Hero 6 had a lot of great humor and a fantastic soundtrack. Zootopia had a great message that forced you to do a bit of soul searching.
Raya and the Last Dragon was funny, but not hilarious. My kids had a couple of belly laughs, and I had at least one myself, but I thought there would be more.
The plot felt very predictable. The story and characters and everything were absolutely beautiful and wonderful to watch, it just didn’t all come together in a fashion that blew me away. While Frozen 2 went way too deep to the point of confusing, I felt like Raya and the Last Dragon was a bit formulaic and left a little to be desired. Maybe they wanted us to be hungry for a sequel (nothing was left on a cliffhanger, I’m just speculating). But overall that’s how I feel even after watching it twice. I want more. I want to know more about Raya. We really get to know about her trust issues, quick thinking and combat skills, but not much more.
But don’t write it off just yet because of my final thoughts. My kids’ reviews in a moment may sway you right back the other direction.
With the premiere access you get to watch the movie as much as you want so long as you have Disney+. So it doesn’t go away after a rental period. You may ask yourself how many times you’d have to watch it for it to feel worth it. Or compare it to the price of taking your family to see it in theaters once.
Is Raya and the Last Dragon going to be free on Disney+? Yes, at some point. When will it be free or included with your regular Disney+ subscription? I’m not sure. But if it follows the same schedule as the live action Mulan we can assume sometime in about three months so perhaps this summer.
Also worth noting: There is not an end credit scene. So if you’ve gotta run to the potty right after the movie, you won’t miss anything.
Is Raya and the Last Dragon Too Scary for Kids?
Dragons, kung fu-style fighting, villains around every turn. Is Raya and the Last Dragon too scary for little ones? Our family says no. As you probably gathered from the trailers and/or movie posters, the dragons aren’t the kind we’re used to in Western Culture. The creature in this movie isn’t winged or fire-breathing. She’s actually pretty cute, and a character sure to be one your family falls in love with.
The other dark force present in the film does jump out at times, startling you maybe once or twice, but you usually see it coming. Unless you’re in a big dark movie theater with a child who startles quite easily, I don’t think you’ll need to worry. My 2-year-old gets scared in movies from time to time, but this one never had her hiding in fear. She loved it.
Now for more about what they thought.
Raya and the Last Dragon Kids Review
My kids are Jayda (10 years old) Ty (7 years old) and this is Lee Lee’s first time chiming in with a few thoughts (2 years old).
What did you think of the movie?
Jayda: Wow! This is my new favorite Disney movie and she’s my new favorite princess.
Ty: This is the best movie ever!
Lee Lee: More!
Why did you like it so much?
Jayda: I really liked the message a lot. That people can come together.
Ty: Because it was the best
Who was your favorite character?
Lee Lee: Sisu
Did you think the movie was funny?
Ty: Kinda funny.
Did you think Raya and the Last Dragon was scary?
Ty: It was not scary.
Lee Lee: Uhuh.
Do you think your friends would like this movie?
Jayda: I think my friends would like it because it seems like a really good movie and people like a really good movie.
Ty: I think my friends would prolly only like the dragon. I think they probably would like it.
It’s going to cost $30 for people to watch it at home. Do you think it’s worth it?
Jayda: Obviously, buy it now.
Ty: I think they should pay the money to see it.
Would you recommend seeing the movie at home or in theaters?
Jayda: It doesn’t really matter cause the movie is amazing. But I would probably want to watch it in a theater.
Ty: Well I would like to see it at the movie theaters, but home seems like you get to see it earlier.
What age do you think it’s good for?
Jayda: 2 and up
Ty: Any age because it’s the best movie in the world.
Would you want to watch it again?
Ty: Well, I’ve already seen it two times. But maybe with my friends.
Lee Lee: Yes!
Raya and the Last Dragon flies to Disney Plus and select theaters Friday March 5th.
Will you be paying for Premiere Access, going to see it in theaters, or waiting until it’s available for free with your subscription?
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