Containing the culture and mythology of Southeast Asia as its pillar base, Raya and the Last Dragon delivers a strong message of confidence, while also having its own charm when presenting to the public a different universe than the usual. The movie was released April 23rd, Friday, on the streaming service Disney+, and it warmed children and adult’s hearts.
Warning: spoiler alert!
Raya grew up protecting the power of the last dragon, something that was passed down by her father, Chief Benja, 500 years before, when the world was only one, Kumandra, a place where lands were fertile and every one lived in harmony with the dragons, powerful magical creatures. But peace soon ended when a plague suddenly appeared consuming the world, transforming people into stone: the Druun. To stop the apocalypse, dragons tried to fight this plague giving all they had, but it wasn’t enough. Everyone turned into stone. Because of this, Sisu, the only dragon left, created a magical jewel with the last bit of magic that the dragons had left and, fortunately, was able to exterminate the plague, but it ended up sacrificing herself in the process. Even with everyone being safe and sound, Kumandra divided into five parts – Tail, Talon, Spine, Fang and Heart – creating many nations that don’t help themselves. The jewel of the last dragon was held under protection of the heir of the Heart, Raya. With hope that the five civilizations would come back and unite by being one again, Chief Benja reunites all of the groups to talk about a peace treaty, but greed and individualism was bigger than all. Namaari, one of the guest group members, tries to steal Sisu’s jewel. In the conflict, the jewel ends up being broken and divided, creating a new problem to the world, by bringing the plague back and putting everyone in danger.
Six years have passed, Raya sees herself in charge of saving the world after the return of a dark threat. The warrior holds on to an old legend that Sisu didn’t die, but after saving the world the dragon fell in the water and floated through the rivers, where she is in a deep slumber within the centuries. Having by her side only a little of power left the jewel, the warrior sets herself in a journey through all the five realms. Although exhausting, the hero goes through her objective, not necessarily trying to prevent that everyone would turn into stone. In actuality, Raya’s true purpose is to save her father from the terrible destiny.
The movie’s universe is well constructed, the young woman’s journey is loaded with a sense of responsibility and a lot of confidence in her purpose. In other words, she doesn’t need to prove to no one that she is capable of doing things. But throughout her path, some characters show up and the hero has great difficulty in trusting them. The feature film explores this issue even more, not only with the character of the Princess’ of the Heart land, but with everyone around the world having the same difficulty and, while the movie progresses, they start to put rivalry aside.
With a world without hope and its population turning into stone, individualism and selfishness becomes present in everyone. As Raya receives and gives affection to people she encounters on her way, even if it is a scammer baby or a stubborn old man, but both with a great heart, she starts to get closer into beating the fear that spreads throughout the whole planet.
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