Starring: Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Soong, Patti Harrison, Ross Butler
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Disney’s animated fantasy directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada. The story is set in the mysterious land of Kumandra, a re-imagined Earth inhabited by an ancient civilization, and centers on warrior Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) as she seeks for the last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), before Druun, an evil force destroys the realm.
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Young Raya: I know what you’re thinking. A lone rider. A dystopian world. A land that’s gone to waste. How did this world get so broken? Well, that all began five hundred years ago.
Young Raya: Kumandra. This is what we used to be. When our land was whole, and we lived harmoniously alongside dragons. Magical creatures who brought us water, and rain, and peace. It was paradise. But then, the Druun came. A mindless plague that spread like wildfire, multiplying as they consumed life, and turned everyone they touched into stone.
Young Raya: The dragons fought for us the best they could. But it wasn’t enough. That’s when the Mighty Sisudatu, the last dragon, concentrated all her magic into a gem and blasted the Druun away. Everyone that was turned to stone came back. Except the dragons. All that was left of Sisu was her gem.
Young Raya: It should have been this big inspirational moment, where humanity united over her sacrifice. But instead, people being people, they all fought to possess the last remnant of dragon magic. Borders were drawn, Kumandra divided. We all became enemies, and the gem had to be hidden. But that’s not how the world broke. That didn’t truly happen until five hundred years later, when I came into the story.
Benja: For generations, our family has sworn to protect the gem. Today, you will join that legacy. Raya, Princess of Heart, my daughter, you are now a Guardian of the Dragon Gem.
Benja: [referring to the other tribes] I invited them. Young Raya: But they’re our enemies. Benja: They’re only our enemies because they think the Dragon Gem magically brings us prosperity. Young Raya: That’s ridiculous. It doesn’t do that. Benja: They assume it does, just like we assume things about them.
Benja: [to Raya] Listen, if we don’t stop and learn to trust one another again, it’s only a matter of time before we tear each other apart. This isn’t the world I want you to live in. I believe that we can be Kumandra again. But someone has to take the first step. Trust me.
Young Raya: [as the other tribes join them] Things look a little tense, Ba. Benja: Don’t worry, I’m going to open with a joke. Young Raya: Please don’t. Benja: I’m kidding. I’m kidding.
Young Raya: Hand-to-hand or swords? Young Namaari: Blades all day. Young Raya: Right? Young Namaari: Okay, dressy or casual? Young Raya: Only a monster would choose to wear this outfit on the regular.
Young Namaari: Fang may look nice on the outside, but we have some pretty big holes on the inside.
Young Namaari: [after she knocks down Raya] In a different world, maybe we could have been friends. But I have to do what’s right for Fang.
Benja: [as the other tribes want the piece of Dragon’s Gem] Listen to me! We have a choice. We can tear each other apart, or we can come together and build a better world. It’s not too late. I still believe we can be Kumandra again.
Benja: Raya, you have to listen. You are the Guardian of the Dragon Gem. Young Raya: Ba, why are you saying this? Benja: [referring to the piece of gem] There’s still light in this. There’s still hope. Young Raya: No! We can make it together. You’re okay. Benja: Raya. Don’t give up on them. I love you, my dewdrop. [he tosses her into the river and the Druun turn him into stone]
[as she’s trying to roll a now giant looking Tuk Tuk on his shell] Raya: You’re getting a little too big for this, bud.
Raya: Six years of searching, and we end up at a literal shipwreck. That’s not a bad sign, is it?
Raya: Sisudatu, I don’t know if you’re listening. I’ve searched every river to find you, and now I’m here at the very last one. Look, there’s not a lot of us left, and we really need your help. If I can be honest, I really need your help. I made a mistake. I trusted someone I shouldn’t have, and now the world’s broken. Sisudatu, I just really, really want my ba back. Please.
Raya: You are Sisu? Sisu: And you’re people. What’s your name? Raya: Raya. I’m Raya. Sisu: And you’re not made of stone. Which means, it worked! We did it! You hear that, Pengu? It worked! I didn’t mess it up!
Sisu: Is that food? I was so focused on saving the world, I forgot to have breakfast today. Raya: Today? When exactly do you think today is? Sisu: Tuesday.
Sisu: Also, you broke the gem! Raya: But I still have a big chunk of it though. Sisu: Is that supposed to make me feel better? If you lost a puppy, and I said, “Well, we still have a big chunk of it.” Would that make you feel better?
Sisu: I’m going to be real with you, alright? I’m not like the best dragon, you know? Raya: But you saved the world. Sisu: I did do that. That’s true. But have you ever done like a group project, but there’s like that one kid who didn’t pitch in as much, but still ended up with the same grade? Yeah, I wasn’t the one who actually made the gem. I just turned it in.
Raya: You’re glowing. Sisu: Oh, thank you. I use aloe and river slime to maintain my… Raya: No. No. Look! Sisu: Oh! This is my little sister Amba’s magic. I got the glow! Raya: Your little sister’s magic? Sisu: Yeah, every dragon has a unique magic. Raya: Okay, what’s yours? Sisu: I’m a really strong swimmer.
Raya: You touched this gem piece, and it gave you powers. You know what this means, right? Sisu: I no longer need a night light? Raya: What? No! You’re still connected to the gem’s magic. And that means you can still use it to save the world.
Sisu: Why are you looking at me like that? Raya: Nothing. I’m just not used to seeing dragons. Sisu: Impressed, huh? Wait until you see my backstroke. I’m wicked when I hit that liquid. I got water skills that kill. I slaughter when I hit the water. I’m like really good at swimming, through rhyme.
Sisu: We forgot to bring a gift for the Tail chief. Raya: I’m sorry. A gift? Sisu: Yeah. A gift says, “You can trust me, can I trust you?”
Sisu: This beetle’s got a booty. Raya: Careful. It’s a Toot N Boom. Sisu: Why is it called a… [the beetle toots and explodes] Sisu: Got it. Noted. Makes sense.
Sisu: Oh. We were doing a jumpy thing? So sorry. My bad. I get it now. I’m with it.
Sisu: I just shape changed! Into people! Raya: Dragons can do that? Sisu: This was my sister Pranee’s thing. Look at my people arms, and my people face. Look how close my butt is to my head!
Namaari: [to Raya] What’s dripping, dep la? Oh, I see you’ve finally made a new friend. And here I was worried you were going to end up becoming a cat lady, like me. Sisu: Something tells me you’re not besties.
Raya: [to Namaari] Say hi, Sisu. Sisu: Hi! It’s very nice to meet you. And I love your hair. And your cats hair.
Boun: Welcome to the world famous Shrimp-orium. My name is Boun. I’ll be your server today. Would you like to hear our daily specials? Sisu: Yes, please! Boun: We got shrimp. We got congee. We got a shrimp congee that won’t quit.
Raya: The captain. Where is the captain? Boun: Let me go get him. [he jumps up on the deck, then turns to face them] Boun: What’s up, my new customers? I’m Captain Boun, the owner, chef, and chief financial officer of the Shrimp-orium.
Raya: Until we have all the gems, you have to stay human. Please. Sisu: Wow, you really got some trust issues. Raya: Look, my father blindly trusted people, and now, he’s stone. Sisu: Hey, we’ll get your ba back. I got you, girl. Come on. Who’s your dragon? I mean, human. Because I’m going to be a human until… Yeah. You get it.
Raya: [refuses the food Boun is offering] We don’t know him. It could be poison. Sisu: Why would he poison us? Boun: Yeah, why would I poison you? Raya: First, to get my jade purse. Second, to steal my sword. And third, I don’t know, to kidnap my Tuk Tuk. Boun: All good points. But if this is poison… [takes a sip of his food] Boun: Mmm! You’re going to die happy.
Boun: What are Druun, anyways? Sisu: A plague. Born from human discord. They’ve always been here. Waiting for a moment of weakness to attack. They’re like the opposite of dragons. Instead of bringing water and life to the world, they’re like a relentless fire that consumes everything in its wake, until there’s nothing left except ash and stone. Boun: They took my family. Sisu: They took mine too.
Raya: Talon may look nice, but it’s a hot spot for pickpockets and con artists. Sisu: Lucky for me. Empty pockets!
Raya: [as she sees a baby crying] Where are your parents? Hey, whose baby… [she turns to see some monkey-like creatures stealing her stuff] Raya: What? Ongis? Drop them! [the baby pulls Raya’s hat over her eyes and knocks her down] Raya: Really? A con-baby? Ugh!
Sisu: Chief Dang Hai does not sound like someone you could smooth talk. And Raya didn’t even bring a gift. That’s it. I’m going shopping. Oh, wait. I don’t have any money. Boun: You’re an adult. You could just put it on credit. Sisu: Oh. What’s credit? Boun: It’s kind of like a promise. You take what you want now, and you promise you’ll pay it back later. Sisu: Pay it back later? Huh! What an amazing concept.
Raya: [to Little Noi] So it’s none of my business, but using your baby charm to rip people off, is super sketchy.
Tail Chief: Now, you’re going to tell me where I can find those other Dragon Gem pieces, or I’ll have to leave you outside with that thing. Take your pick. Sisu: But I trusted you. Tail Chief: Big mistake.
Sisu: I can’t believe it. That old lady was really going to hurt me. Raya: Well, I’m sorry, Sisu. But that’s what the world is now. You can’t trust anyone. Sisu: Does that include babies? She’s so cute. I mean, look at those cheeks. [Noi grabs hold of her cheeks] Sisu: Hi, I’m Sisu. She loves my face. Raya: Yeah, watch out she doesn’t steal your teeth.
Raya: Remind me to never have kids. Sisu: Being people is hard.
Sisu: You have small heads. No tails. You lie to get what you want, like the Talon chief back there. Raya: Yeah, well, the world’s broken. You can’t trust anyone. Sisu: Or maybe the world’s broken because you don’t trust anyone. Raya: You sound just like my ba. Sisu: Well, he sounds like a smart man.
Raya: [referring to her father] I really wanted to believe him. I really wanted to believe that we could be Kumandra again. Sisu: And we can. Raya: Literally thousands of people turned to stone would argue otherwise. Sisu: That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Raya: And I did. And you know what happened? I got kicked in the back by someone who gave me a gift.
Raya: Look around. We’re a world of orphans because people couldn’t stop fighting over a gem. Want to know why other dragons didn’t come back? It’s because people don’t deserve them. Sisu: But you can change that. Raya: No, Sisu. I am done trying. Kumandra is a fairy tale. The only thing important to me now is bringing my ba back.
Tong: You two must be dung of brain to think you could steal Spine’s Dragon Gem. Raya: Gem? Who said anything about gems? We have no interest in gems. [he empties their gem bag] Raya: Okay. Yeah, I can see how that makes me look like a liar. Sisu: Actually, I think it was the lying that made you look like a liar.
Sisu: He seems lonely. Tong: No! I’m not lonely. I’m a Spine warrior. I was born and bred to do only one thing. To invoke fear, and to crush the skulls of my enemies! Sisu: That’s actually two things.
Raya: [as Tong has tied and hung them up] What do you plan on doing with us? Tong: Oh, it’s going to be bad. Horrifying. It’ll take me two weeks to clean up. Raya: You have no idea, do you? Tong: Yes, I do. I’m formulating this gruesome plan in my head. Makes me sick just thinking about it. You just wait. Until then, why don’t you just hang around? Good one, huh?
Raya: Okay. Note to self, don’t die.
Raya: Hey there, Princess Undercut. Fancy meeting you here. Namaari: You and the Dragon Gem pieces are coming with me. Raya: My sword here says we’re not.
Namaari: Why are you stealing gem pieces? Raya: Oh, I’m just trying to get a matching set.
Tong: Why are you here, divine water dragon? Sisu: Isn’t that obvious, big guy? My girl Raya and I are going to fix the world. Bring everyone back. Boun: You’re going to bring everyone back? I want to help.
Tong: I, too, wish to join this fellowship of Druun butt-kickery.
Sisu: Here’s my plan. We infiltrate Fang, confront Namaari, and offer her something nice and go, “Hey! Want to help us save the world? Because all it takes is one gem piece.” “Yes! I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me! Here you go! Best friends forever!” Raya: Yeah, I think I’d rather go with Boun’s plan.
Sisu: If we’re just honest with her, deep down, I got a feeling she wants to fix the world as much as we do. Raya: You weren’t there when Namaari betrayed me.
Sisu: So, one by one, they combined all their magic, creating the Dragon Gem. I don’t know why they chose me. It could have been any of us. All I know is I trusted them, and they trusted me. And so, when they put their faith in me, it empowered me beyond anything I could imagine.
Raya: [referring to her father] Do you think he would even recognize me? So much has changed. Sisu: Of course he will. Raya: You remind me of him. Sisu: Oh, yeah? Strong? Good looking, with impeccable hair? Raya: Hopeful.
Sisu: It may feel impossible, but sometimes, you just have to take the first step, even before you’re ready. Trust me.
[as Raya agrees to go with her plan, referring to Namaari] Sisu: You’re not going to regret this. But we’re going to need a really good gift. What do you think she’s into? Cats? Knives? Cats with knives? Knives with little cats on them?
Tong: [referring to Namaari] If she refuses to help, we’ve just flushed our tactical advantage into the dung pot. Raya: I know. Boun: Yeah. She really has no reason to help us. Raya: I know! Sisu: This jerky’s terrible. Raya: I know! Tong: Are you sure those four miniature menaces will be successful? Raya: I don’t know.
Tong: There’s too much spice. Boun: Uh, no. There’s too much bamboo. Tong: What do you know? You have the taste buds of a tall baby. Boun: Well, you dress like a tall baby.
Sisu: I know you don’t want to hurt anybody. Namaari: What are you doing? Sisu: You just want a better world. Like we all do. Namaari: Sisu. Sisu: I trust you, Namaari.
[after Raya causes Sisu to get hit by Namaari’s arrow] Namaari: I never meant for any of this to happen. Raya: Liar! Namaari: I don’t care if you believe me. Sisu did. But you didn’t trust her. That’s why we’re here. Do whatever you want. But you’re as much to blame for Sisu’s death as I am.
Raya: Everyone, give me your gems. We can still put it together. It can still work! Boun: Sisu’s gone, Raya! We don’t have her magic! Raya: It’s not about her magic. It’s about trust. Namaari: What? Raya: That’s why it worked. That’s why we can do it too. By doing the one thing Sisu wanted us to do. What my ba wanted us to do. To finally trust each other and fix this. But we have to come together. Please.
Tong: [referring to Namaari] After what she’s done? Boun: We’ll never trust her! Raya: Then let me take the first step. [Raya puts her gem into Namaari’s hand] Boun: Raya, no! [she then allows the Druun to turn her into stone]
[after Sisu, along with everyone else is brought back to life] Sisu: I am so hungry. Raya: I got some jerky. Sisu: Not that hungry.
Tong: Aw, it’s good to breathe in your glorious dragon stench again. Sisu: Okay, I take that as a compliment.
Sisu: Chief Benja, your daughter did you proud. Hope you don’t mind, she brought some friends. [as all the tribes peacefully come together] Raya: Ba. Welcome to Kumandra.
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