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Watch Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Sep 15, 2022
Watch Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Watch Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

 

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

In a realm known as Kumandra, a re-imagined Earth inhabited by an ancient civilization, a warrior named Raya is determined to find the last dragon.

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Trailer

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Reviews

Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon,” available this week in limited theatrical release and on Disney+ for an extra fee, is a wonderful adventure. Blending imagery and mythology from several Southeast Asian cultures into its own vision, it’s an ambitious family film that will work for all ages, and one that never talks down to its audience while presenting them with an entertaining, thought-provoking story. It also contains some of the most striking imagery Disney has ever produced, dropping its characters in a world that feels both classic and new at the same time.
Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) has long heard the stories of the last dragon from her father Benja (Daniel Dae Kim). As a villainous force was working its way across the land, turning people into stone, magical dragons united their forces together into a stone and one named Sisu used it to stop the pending apocalypse. She sacrificed herself in the process, although rumors persist that she survived. That stone resides with Benja and Raya’s people when the film begins, but the other clans of the now-divided world steal it, break it into pieces, and scatter it across the land.Years later, Raya goes on a quest to find both Sisu (Awkafina) and the fragments of the stone, trying to bring her people back together and fulfill her father’s vision of loyalty. Along the way, they are chased by the princess of a clan seeking full power named Namaari (Gemma Chan), and encounter several memorable supporting characters, including the gregarious Boun (Izaac Wang), one-eyed Tong (Benedict Wong), and even a “con baby,” a kid who uses her undeniable cuteness as an alley con artist.

All of these lively characters were impacted by the stone’s fragmentation, and they form an unforgettable core in what is basically an old-fashioned adventure movie that recalls everything from Indiana Jones to “Princess Mononoke.”

Directors Don Hall (“Big Hero 6”) and Carlos López Estrada (“Blindspotting”) imbue every design element of “Raya and the Last Dragon” with top-notch craftsmanship. Each of the lands that Raya and her compatriots travel to feel like fully-realized worlds. Look at the streets in which Raya meets the baby and her monkeys-in-crime—they’re filled with bustling life and background detail that many movies like this simply ignore.

And then there’s the character design, which is much more carefully considered than most modern blockbuster animation, particularly the gorgeous look of Sisu and her fellow dragons. Yes, she bears a strong resemblance to dragons we’ve seen in Asian cinema before—it’s hard not to think of “Spirited Away” when she takes her own form of flight—but she ultimately stands on her own, thanks in part to how her design melds with Awkwafina’s fantastic voice work.

She’s expressive without being overly cartoonish. All of “Raya” has that going for it—a vibrant color palette and remarkable level of detail that never pushes too far into fantasy elements, achieving the perfect balance.

That balance is maintained because screenwriters Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim don’t get lost in their new animated playground, and never forget the story’s emotional stakes. Raya isn’t just trying to bring her father back to life, she’s trying to reunite the world. It’s a smart film about one of the big themes of our current age—a quest for unity. The social and political readings of the movie will be plentiful because it’s about trying to find common ground and cause again after betrayals and division.One of the many things I love about it is how much it challenges the traditional superficiality of blockbuster animation, knowing that kids can handle more complex plots and themes than Hollywood usually gives them. One can enjoy “Raya” purely on an adventure movie level, but it will also likely start a few interesting conversations with children about trust, forgiveness, and courage. Is fear a result of distrust or the cause of it? Are we divided because we’re enemies or because we’re told we’re enemies?

This is a rare criticism of studio animation, but “Raya and the Last Dragon” can sometimes be almost too dense with theme. In particular, the film’s last half-hour has a habit of spelling out its ideas through dialogue more than it really needs to. The characters and storytelling are very strong, but I sometimes wished “Raya” would allow for more quiet development than the breakneck pacing chosen by Hall and Estrada. It has a habit of overexplaining itself when its imagery and narrative get the job done on their own.

The voice work is stellar throughout. Tran finds just the right mix of vulnerability and strength in Raya and Awkwafina locks into a register of optimistic wonder that’s infectious. The whole ensemble brings their A-game: Kim grounds a father/daughter dynamic with just a few scenes, Wong is so fun that he could anchor a spin-off about his character, and Chan sells the complex arc of a young woman forced by her mother to act against her own beliefs. All of them are also ably supported by one of James Newton Howard’s best scores.

“Raya and the Last Dragon” could have been a traditional princess story—another tale of a young woman chosen by legacy or magic to save her people. It’s not that movie. It’s a story about fallibility and the uncertainty that often accompanies courage—wrapped up in an unforgettable narrative that pays homage to mythology that has come before while creating its own past, present, and future.Many films have felt dismissed because of the closure of theaters in the last year, not getting the attention that may have resulted from normal times. “Raya and the Last Dragon” is the kind of movie I wish I could have experienced in a crowded theater, but it’s also one that I’m certain won’t be lost to history and will find its audience. It’s too good not to.

  • Brian Tallerico   –  Roger Ebert
  • Brian Tallerico is the Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Credits

Raya and the Last Dragon movie poster

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Rated PG for some violence, action and thematic elements.

112 minutes

Cast

Kelly Marie Tran as Raya (voice)

Awkwafina as Sisu (voice)

Gemma Chan as Namaari (voice)

Daniel Dae Kim as Benja (voice)

Benedict Wong as Tong (voice)

Sandra Oh as Virana (voice)

Alan Tudyk as Tuk Tuk (voice)

Thalia Tran as Little Noi (voice)

Izaac Wang as Boun (voice)

Director

  • Don Hall
  • Carlos López Estrada

Co-Director

  • Paul Briggs
  • John Ripa

Writer (story by)

  • Paul Briggs
  • Don Hall
  • Adele Lim
  • Carlos López Estrada
  • Kiel Murray
  • Qui Nguyen
  • John Ripa
  • Dean Wellins

Writer

  • Adele Lim
  • Qui Nguyen

Editor

  • Fabienne Rawley
  • Shannon Stein

Composer

  • James Newton Howard

 

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Plot

Five hundred years ago, the peaceful and prosperous sub-continent of Kumandra is ravaged by the Druun, mindless purple-and-black-colored spirits that turn every living thing in their path to stone. Sisu, the last surviving dragon, is given her siblings’ magic which was placed in a gem. She concentrates her magic into the gem and blasts the Druun away, reviving Kumandra’s people but not its dragons.

A power struggle for the gem divides Kumandra’s people into five separate kingdoms called Fang, Heart, Spine, Talon, and Tail, corresponding to their placement along a gigantic dragon-shaped river.

In the present, Chief Benja of the Heart tribe, which ends up retaining possession of the dragon gem, trains his daughter, young warrior Princess Raya to protect the gem. Firmly believing Kumandra can be reunited, Benja holds a feast for the leadership of all five tribes. During the feast, Raya befriends Namaari, daughter of Chief Virana of the Fang tribe and Fang’s princess, who gives Raya a dragon pendant and tells her of a legend that says the dragon Sisu still exists and can be summoned through the power of the gem.

Trusting Namaari, Raya shows her the gem’s chamber. Namaari betrays Raya as part of a plot to help Fang steal the gem. Alerted to the attack, Benja and the other tribes arrive and start fighting over the gem, breaking it into five pieces in the scuffle. The gem’s destruction creates a fissure which releases the Druun once more, quickly overtaking the Land of Heart. As every tribe member steals a piece of the gem and flees, Benja notices that the Druun are repelled by water and sacrifices himself to save Raya’s life by throwing her in the river before getting turned to stone by the Druun.

Six years later Raya treks across Kumandra searching for Sisu to have her create another gem and banish the Druun once more. She manages to summon her at a shipwreck in Tail where Sisu admits that she did not create the gem, but wielded it on behalf of her four siblings, who each contributed their magic to the gem. Raya and Sisu resolve to take back the four stolen pieces of the gem, reassemble it and use it to banish the Druun and restore Raya’s father and others who were turned to stone.

Raya and Sisu travel across the realm, reclaiming pieces of the gem and making new friends: the young restaurateur Boun from Tail, the baby con artist Little Noi and her three ongis from Talon, and the warrior Tong from Spine, all of whom have lost loved ones to the Druun. Namaari pursues Raya, hoping to gain the gem shards for the Fang tribe. Each gem shard they acquire blesses Sisu with one of her siblings’ magical powers. Raya, not fully trusting their new companions, insists Sisu remain disguised as a human, but Sisu reveals herself to save Raya from Namaari at Spine.

At Fang, Sisu persuades Raya to propose an alliance to Namaari rather than steal the final piece of the gem. As a gesture of trust, Raya returns the pendant Namaari gave her years ago. Namaari, torn between her responsibility to Fang and her wish to help defeat the Druun, threatens them with a crossbow. Sisu tries to calm Namaari but Raya attacks with her whipsword when she sees Namaari’s finger on the trigger, causing the crossbow to fire and kill Sisu.

Sisu’s death drains away all the water of Kumandra, allowing the Druun to overrun the realm. Furious by Namaari’s actions, Raya pursues Namaari, whom she finds grieving the petrification of her mother.

They bitterly fight one another while Raya’s companions use the gem pieces to evacuate the people of Fang. Raya defeats and prepares to kill Namaari, but stops when Namaari reminds Raya of her role in Sisu’s death due to her inability to trust others. Raya and Namaari go to aid the others.

As the Druun gain on her group, Raya remembers how trust allowed Sisu to save the world. She urges the others to unite and reassemble the gem, showing her faith in Namaari by handing over her gem piece and allowing the Druun to turn her into stone. Boun, Tong, Noi, and the ongis follow suit, and Namaari reassembles the gem before the Druun petrify her as well.

With the dragon gem reassembled, it unleashes a powerful shockwave that spreads throughout Kumandra, vanquishes all the Druun, and conjures up a magical rainstorm which revives everyone, alongside all the dragons who later revive Sisu. The group reunites with their lost loved ones, including Raya and her father; the tribes and dragons gather at Heart to unify as Kumandra once again.

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Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Box office

Raya and the Last Dragon grossed $54.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $75.7 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $130.4 million.

In the US and Canada, the film was released alongside Chaos Walking and Boogie, and was initially projected to gross $6-$7 million in 2,045 theaters in its opening weekend.[58] However, after making $2.5 million on its first day, due to the re-opening of New York City theaters, weekend estimates were raised to $8.3 million. On its debut weekend it took $8.5 million, topping the box office. 

Theater chains Cinemark and Harkins in the US, and Cineplex in Canada, did not initially run the film after declining Disney’s rental terms,[a][64] which led to Raya and the Last Dragon failing to match the opening-weekend grosses of The Croods: A New Age and Tom & Jerry, two family films that were also released amid the pandemic.

Raya and the Last Dragon‘s performance, however, improved in the following weeks, matching and eventually surpassing Tom & Jerry’s box office numbers. Raya and the Last Dragon made $5.5 million in its second weekend and $5.2 million in its third, remaining atop the box office.

 

Audience viewership

In its first three days in the week of March 1, Raya And The Last Dragon was watched for 355 million minutes and placed fourth for the week among movies.

The film was made available on Disney+ without any additional cost on June 4, 2021, worldwide; it was the “second-most viewed streaming title” following after Netflix’s Lucifer.[69] Raya and the Last Dragon was viewed for approximately 1.1 billion minutes from May 31 to June 6, a significant increase for the film and any streaming title, which previously had 115 million viewing minutes a week when it was only available as a premium title for $30.

According to the official list of the most watched streaming titles of 2021 released on January 21, 2022, by Deadline and Nielsen, Raya and the Last Dragon ranked as the “third most streamed movie title of 2021” with 8.34 billion minutes watched, just behind Luca (2021) and Moana (2016) which had 10.5 billion and 8.9 billion minutes watched respectively.

In January 2022, tech firm Akamai reported that the film was the ninth most pirated film of 2021.

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Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Critical Response

Raya and the Last Dragon received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports 94% of 298 critics have given the film, a positive review with an average rating of 7.70/10. The website’s consensus reads: “Another gorgeously animated, skillfully voiced entry in the Disney canon, Raya and the Last Dragon continues the studio’s increased representation while reaffirming that its classic formula is just as reliable as ever.”

On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100 based on 46 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.[73] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale while PostTrak reported 92% of audience members gave it a positive score and that 78% said they would definitely recommend it.

The female empowerment and the craftsmanship aspects were praised. IndieWire writer Kate Erbland assessed it with a “B+”; she found the film to be creative, favourably comparing it to Mulan (1998) and The Princess and the Frog (2009), and described its perspective as different.

Shirley Li of The Atlantic strongly praised the world-building and detail, but thought: “subordinated the story to world building muddies the film’s message”.[75] From the San Francisco Chronicle, Julie Tremaine complimented the depiction of females.[76]

David Fear of Rolling Stone rated Raya and the Last Dragon three and a half stars out of five; in terms of praise, he attributed the action scenes and sequences and vocal performances to “actually mak[ing] the film come alive”.[In RogerEbert.com, the film was regarded as promoting female empowerment but not talking down to the audience in the process. Sandie Angulo Chen for Common Sense Media gave it a score of four out of five stars, particularly for its empowerment. At Forbes, the film’s animation, humor, and emotional moments were praised.

Others were disappointed in the limited Southeast Asian representation in the cast, and found the narrative over-engineered.[81] Keith Baldwin of PopDust.com criticized the trailer’s cultural aesthetics and character motivations, while finding similarities to Avatar: the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.

Most of the cast, with exceptions of Kelly Marie Tran, Butler, Thalia Tran, Wang, and Harrison, are of East Asian heritage. A. Felicia Wade of DiscussingFilm pointed this out in her review, commenting on the “disheartening” lack of accurate representation in the vocal cast, commenting it “misses the mark at its core”.  Justin Chang of NPR admired the animation and humor, but said the plot is over-detailed.[86] The unavailability of Disney+ in the majority of Southeast Asia was also criticised.

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Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Accolades

Year Award Category Recipients Result
2022 Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho Nominated
2022 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
Best Animated Female Kelly Marie Tran Nominated
Best Animated Female Awkwafina Nominated
2022 American Cinema Editors (ACE Eddie) Awards American Cinema Editors Award for Best Edited Animated Feature Film Fabienne Rawley and Shannon Stein Nominated
2022 Annie Awards Best Animated Feature Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
Best FX – Feature Alex Moaveni, Dimitri Berberov, Bruce Wright, Scott Townsend and Dale Mayeda Nominated
Best Character Animation – Feature Jennifer Hager Nominated
Best Character Design – Feature Ami Thompson Nominated
Best Music – Feature James Newton Howard and Jhené Aiko Nominated
Best Production Design – Feature Paul Felix, Mingjue Helen Chen and Cory Loftis Nominated
Best Storyboarding – Feature Luis Logam Nominated
Best Voice Acting – Feature Kelly Marie Tran (Raya) Nominated
Best Writing – Feature Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim Nominated
Best Editorial – Feature Fabienne Rawley, Shannon Stein, Todd Fulkerson, Rick Hammel and Brian Millman Nominated
2022 Art Directors Guild Awards Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design for a Animated Film Paul Felix, Mingjue Helen Chen, Cory Loftis Nominated
2022 Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Animation Jamie Sparer Roberts, Grace C. Kim Nominated
2021 BMI Film & TV Awards Theatrical Film James Newton Howard Won
2022 Chicago Indie Critics Awards Best Animated Film Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho Nominated
2022 CinEuphoria Awards Best Animated Character – International Competition Sisu Nominated
2022 Cinema Audio Society Awards Cinema Audio Society Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture – Animated Paul McGrath (original dialogue mixer); David E. Fluhr, Gabriel Guy (re-recording mixers); Alan Meyerson(scoring mixer); Doc Kane (adr mixer); Scott Curtis (foley mixer) Nominated
2022 Columbus Film Critics Awards (COFCA) Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Best Animated Feature Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2021 Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada Nominated
2022 Denver Film Critics Society (DFCS) Awards Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 Georgia Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 Golden Derby Awards Best Animated Feature Don Hall, Carlos Lopez Estrada and Osnat Shurer Nominated
2022 Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture — Animated Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 Golden Tomato Awards Best Animated Movie Raya and the Last Dragon Won
2022 Gold List Best Animated Feature Raya and the Last Dragon Won
Best Original Screenplay (Honorable Mention) Adele Lim and Qui Nguyen Won
2022 Hawaii Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
Best Vocal/Motion Capture Performance Kelly Marie Tran Won
2021 Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards Best Picture Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 Hollywood Critics Association Awards Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 Houston Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Feature Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 International Film Music Critics Association Awards Film Composer of the Year James Newton Howard Won
Best Original Score for an Animated Film James Newton Howard Won
2022 Iowa Film Critics Association Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Runner-up
2021 Las Vegas Film Critics Society/ Sierra Awards Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) Golden Reel Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR for Animated Feature Film Shannon Mills, Brad Semenoff MPSE, Nia Hansen, Samson Neslund, David C. Hughes, Cameron Barker, Chris Frazier, Steve Orlando, John Roesch MPSE, Shelley Roden MPSE, Jim Weidman, David Olson Won
2022 Music City Film Critics’ Association Awards Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Animated Motion Picture Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – Motion Picture Awkwafina Nominated
2022 North Carolina Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
Best Performance in Animation or Mixed Media Kelly Marie Tran Nominated
2021 North Texas Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Won
2021 Online Association of Female Film Critics awards Best Animated Feature Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Feature Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2021 People’s Choice Awards Family Movie of 2021 Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2021 Philadelphia Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Film Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada Runner-up
2021 Phoenix Critics Circle Best Animated Film Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2021 Portland Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
2022 Producers Guild of America Award Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho Nominated
2022 San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Film Don Hall Nominated
2022 Seattle Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Feature Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Paul Briggs and John Ripa Nominated
2022 Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Kyle Odermatt, Osnat Shurer, Kelsey Hurley, Paul Felix Nominated
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Brian Menz, Punn Wiantrakoon, Erik Hansen, Vicky YuTzu Lin (for Tuk Tuk) Nominated
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Mingjue Helen Chen, Chaiwon Kim, Virgilio John Aquino, Diana Jiang LeVangie (for Talon) Nominated
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project Rob Dressel, Adolph Lusinsky, Paul Felix Nominated
Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature Le Joyce Tong, Henrik Fält, Rattanin Sirinaruemarn, Jacob Rice Won
2021 Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Raya and the Last Dragon Nominated
Best Voice Performance Awkwafina Won
Best Voice Performance Kelly Marie Tran Nominated
2021 Women Film Critics Circle Awards Best Animated Female Raya Nominated

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Movie Info

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the Druun for good. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than dragon magic to save the world–it’s going to take trust as well.

 

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