“Raya and the Last Dragon:” the Latest in Disney Adaptation


Disney+ released “Raya and The Last Dragon” for Premier Access viewing on March 5 and will release for regular streaming on June 4. For $29.99 “Raya and The Last Dragon” along with other future Disney content will be available similar to that of a digital copy (image by A. Kice).

Ashdon Kice, Photo Manager

“Raya and the Last Dragon,” which released simultaneously on Disney + and in theaters on March 5, is a story that follows a warrior princess who observes the rise and fall of her mythical world of Kumandra. This was the first Disney movie to feature primarily Southeast Asian culture with a Disney modified version of struggles the world is going through. 

The point of the film is to find the one thing that can save the world and reunite its people. I have studied  Filipino martial arts for the past nine years, and was thrilled to see the adaptation of my art into such a large production. In the beginning of the film Raya, as a young girl, trains to guard the last piece of dragon magic in the world. As the story progresses, Raya meets another princess from a neighboring land, and her blind trust in this stranger leads to the dragon magic getting shattered, which ultimately causes the end of their civilization.

 The story jumps forward several years to Raya locating a shipwreck in search for the Last Dragon. This Dragon would have the power to save the world from the evil that terrorized it. Within the first 30 minutes of the film, this Dragon, Sisu, was found. Sisu’s character filled the spot of a comedic relief character, similar to the Genie in “Aladdin” or Mushu from “Mulan.” Sisu had the same out-of-time-and-place jokes that fit into our world, but not in the plot (i.e. comparing her contribution in saving the world to not doing work on a group project but still receiving credit). For a dragon that survived the end of its species, the world, and human decency, Sisu was almost unnervingly optimistic and trusting.

One point brought up multiple times throughout the story was how little you can expect from other people. Yet a big portion of the storyline was Raya building her team of trustworthy – and goofy – misfits to save the world. The group had a good dynamic and made for some humorous moments. This group, though, was brought together and bonded over one thing, and one thing alone. They had all suffered loss from the evil spirit like creatures that roamed their world. This one main piece of each characters’ arc left little room for character development. 

Disney’s latest has had its shares of pros and cons, from character development to reminders of watching classic disney movies as a kid. Overall I enjoyed “Raya and the Last Dragon” and hope to see more from its new world of stories.