The animated film takes place in Kumandra, which had been terrorized by evil spirits known as the Drunn. That battle was won when the last dragon, Sisu, was able to focus her magic into a gem which banished the Drunn.
The people of Kumandra thrived once again, but the guardian dragons did not return. Hundreds of years later, disaster returns when the gem is broken into pieces that are each taken by the different tribes.
The Drunn return to destroy everyone. It's up to Raya, daughter of the Chief of the Heart tribe, and her ragtag group of friends, to reunite the pieces of the stone. They're helped once more by Sisu the dragon. They're also opposed by Namaari, daughter of the Chief of the Fang tribe. To restore mankind, they'll have to find a way to work together.
The AAPI Connection
The film has been criticized by some for not being fully cast with actors of Southeast Asian descent. It is, though, a cast comprised almost entirely with Asian and AAPI actors. Kelly Marie Tran (of "Star Wars" fame) is the voice of Raya. Akwafina voices Sisu. Upcoming "Eternals" star Gemma Chan voices Namaari. AAPI activist Daniel Dae Kim is the voice of Raya's father, Chief Benja. Bendict Wong and Sandra Oh are also prominent cast members. As a classic type of animated Disney adventure, it's an achievement worth celebrating.
Why You Should See It
"Raya and the Last Dragon" is a rousing AAPI, original Disney family film that is critically and commercially acclaimed. The film made over $100 million worldwide in theaters during the pandemic. As of May 18, 2021, it's also available on DVD, Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray, and digital format.
Did You Know
The role of Raya was originally to be voiced by Cassie Steele as a "stoic loner" type. However, the filmmakers decided that Raya should have more of a "lightness and buoyancy" similar to the Star-Lord character in "Guardians of the Galaxy." At that point, Kelly Marie Tran was re-cast as Raya. By all accounts, she succeeds in the role. As well, the actress has expressed interest to return to the role in future movies.
About the Author
Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.