2016 was a banner year for Disney. Bookended by brand-new Star Wars films, it also saw the Marvel brand go from strength to strength at the box office. It was also the first time since 2002 that its animation arm released two films in the same year. And while it might not hit quite the same highs as its sibling Zootropolis, there's no denying that Moana is another triumph.
Auli'i Cravalho voices the title character, the strong-willed daughter of a Polynesian chieftain who embarks on a daring journey to save her homeland by returning the mystical heart of the goddess Te Fiti to its rightful home. To do this Moana must first track down Maui (Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson), the vainglorious demigod who originally stole Te Fiti's heart, and convince him to help her complete her quest.
Moana may focus on a plucky heroine and pack in plenty of empowering musical numbers, but it also has some fun with the usual 'Disney Princess' formula. It doesn't shy away from including plenty of winks at the genre's familiar tropes.
Meanwhile, the striving for authenticity in the film's depiction of Polynesian culture results in Disney finally moving away from its usual waif-like heroines for a more realistic body type. The Pacific setting also gives the film a unique narrative and visual flavour that help it stand apart from predecessors.
Picture: Moana makes a splash on Blu-ray with a pristine 2.40:1 Full HD encode. It's a lushly-coloured, detail-rich extravaganza, with fluid animation and a sense of depth in the image that's remarkable. Couple that with a lack of artefacts and banding and you've a Blu-ray image that will win over even the pickiest videophile. While it's a moot point where Disney is concerned right now, it's nice to imagine what a 4K HDR version would do to improve on this 1080p effort.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: Moana's DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio is not quite as flashy as its visuals, but impresses nonetheless. Use of the surrounds is expansive and convincing, and there's plenty of surprisingly hefty LFE on offer. Likewise, the musical numbers sound wonderful.
Extras rating: 4/5
Extras: The centrepiece of the disc's bonus features is a half-hour documentary looking at Polynesian culture. Joining it are two animated shorts (Inner Workings and Gone Fishing); featurettes about costume design and scoring the film; four videos focusing on challenging animation sequences (Mini-Maui, Water, Lava and Hair); seven deleted scenes; a deleted song; a guide to some of the film's Easter Eggs; a commentary; and more.
Extras rating: 4/5
We say: Disney does it again with a masterful Blu-ray presentation of another modern animated gem. What's not to love?
Moana, Walt Disney, All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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