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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

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Movie Review: Raya and the Last Dragon


After over a year of dealing with a pandemic and waves of racial injustice throughout the country, Disney was right on time with the release of their newest movie, Raya and the Last Dragon. The film was released on Disney+ in early March. This is the first Disney film that features a Southeast Asian princess, which is a great response to the cries for diversity and representation in films made for children. It tells the story of its protagonist, Raya, and her journey to reunite her home, the broken kingdom of Kumandra. It was one that brought me laughter, tears, and a new perspective on issues that are taking place throughout the world today.

In the film, Raya’s character development and growth set a good example for young girls everywhere. Unlike older Disney movies such as Cinderella and Tangled, Raya and the Last Dragon illuminates the fact that young women do not need a prince to rescue and marry them in order for them to be happy. Throughout the film, Raya bravely battled those against her with the help of her friends and never gave up on finding Sisou, the last dragon, despite being told that her efforts were pointless. Her fiery spirit never died despite the hardship she faced.

 While the film appeals to children, it also managed to highlight some of the most prominent issues plaguing the world today. In just under two hours, Raya and the Last Dragon portrayed how distrust and greed in society can cause disorder and the destruction of its people. This parallels the issues we face in relation to politics and capitalism. The movie communicates the message that without trust and unity, a nation cannot prosper.

This film also offers necessary representation to the AAPI community. With the recent surge of hate crimes against the Asian community spreading across the U.S., Asian representation in films is more important now than ever. Children of Asian descent should be able to watch TV shows and movies and see characters that they identify with. While watching the movie, I felt immersed in the Southeast Asian culture and became more familiar with their customs. 

Raya and the Last Dragon is a film with many great lessons and ideas. However, the entertainment factor was not overlooked. The script featured many relatable jokes and I found myself laughing, often. It also featured the classic, funny, animal friend that most protagonists in Disney movies possess. I applaud the production team’s ability to make the film enjoyable while instilling important values in its viewers.

Ultimately, I enjoyed watching the film and would encourage both children and adults to watch it as well. I hope that Disney continues to make films that showcase representation of different races and ethnicities while promoting important principles for people to practice throughout life.

Stream Raya and the Last Dragon now on Disney+.

Featured Image courtesy of Budiey via Flickr Creative Commons

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  • AnonymousApr 20, 2021 at 10:52 am


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Movie Review: Raya and the Last Dragon