From the moment I saw this teased at D23, I knew this was a film that would definitely make a statement. This gorgeously animated tale takes us on an exciting, journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where
humans and dragons once upon a time existed together in harmony. However, when an evil force threatens , the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity.
500 years later, that same evil force has reared its ugly head and Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) makes it her mission to track down this legendary last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina) in order to restore the fractured land and its divided people. Of course, along the way, Raya discovers that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world.
Raya and The Last Dragon could’ve easily fallen into a trap of yet another traditional Disney princess story of a young woman chosen by legacy or magic to save her people. Baby, this is by no stretch of the imagination THAT kind of film. It’s a story about being fallible and the uncertainty that accompanies courage, all wrapped up in a narrative which pays homage to what has existed and come before.
Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) has long heard the stories of the last dragon from her father Benja (Daniel Dae Kim). As a villainous force works its way across the land, turning people into stone. Magical dragons united their forces together into a stone and one named Sisu (Awkwafina) used it to stop the impending apocalypse. Sisu sacrifices herself , although rumors continue to swirl about that she somehow has survived.
Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina are perfection personified as Raya and Sisu. The vibrant, all encompassing manner in which they bring these characters to life is exciting and wonderful to behold. Their vocals carry this film into a whole new level making it my new favorite Disney classic. After witnessing Disney grossly underuse Tran in the Star Wars franchise and having Awkwafina be relegated to comedy, especially after her tear-jerking performance in ‘The Farewell,” as a Black woman, I was thrilled to see my Asian sisters finally given their due .
Lessons of trust and teamwork are life lessons we can all stand to be reacquainted with in the midst of the racial and pandemic adheaval that is globally suffocating society as a whole. Learn to trust yourself, trust your neighbor and work together to make this world a better place to dwell in for all of mankind. So, that after we all cease to exist, we may take pride in a world no longer broken as a result of fear, distrust or division. Learn to invoke the courage to forgive, trust and not fall into the traps of staying divided just because society has told us we’re enemies. Rise above the hate and ignorance to create a global sensation in the same manner Raya and The Last Dragon has done, which is streaming right now on Disney Plus.