Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon is one of the few big movies coming out in the next few months—it’s pretty much this and Godzilla vs Kong, kind of a “one for me, one for you” deal with parents and kids—and there is a new trailer showing off more of the film and its particular appeal to children. I shuddered a little at the “con baby” line—it’s too close to Boss Baby, a cursed animation object—but overall this looks like a fun adventure flick for kids. I get a little bit of a Coco vibe with the colors and the bit with Raya and the con baby running through a town, and then the dragon shows up and is a comedy sidekick, which is a thing I guess kids want. After the beautiful but navel-gazing existentialism of Soul, a goofy dragon and a “fellowship of butt-kickery” is probably a little more kids’ speed coming from Disney.
We also get to hear more of the voice cast in this trailer—I recognized Daniel Dae Kim right off the bat. (There is a small cohort of long-gigging actors I am glad to see getting more and more high profile work, including Zahn McClarnon, who is in Hawkeye, and DDK. It’s really great to see that after leaving Hawaii Five-O due to unfair pay structures, DDK is THRIVING.) Other voice actors include Gemma Chan, Benedict Wong, Sandra Oh, Patti Harrison—have you seen her in Yearly Departed yet? She’s one of the best parts of that special—and Awkwafina as Sisu the dragon. Between Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, and screenwriter Adele Lim, this is the closest we’ve gotten to a Crazy Rich Asians sequel. (WHERE IS THAT SEQUEL?)
I’m not gonna lie, as a nearly-40 person with no kids, Raya is not entrancing me. I prefer my fantasy more mysterious than funny and with less overall babies. But I can definitely see the appeal to the tot set, and I suspect in normal times, this would be yet another massive Disney smash. In These Uncertain Times, it is sure to be something people watch at home. Like Mulan before it, Raya will premiere in whatever theaters are open and on Disney+ on March 5, though the streaming option comes with a $30 surcharge. Disney has never released hard numbers on how Mulan performed, but while a lot of online people called it a flop, it must not have been, or Disney wouldn’t be repeating its release plan. There must have been some money in that “premium access” idea, something that always favored families/groups over individuals. $30 is a lot for one person to cough up for a movie, but for a family it is undoubtedly cheaper than a trip to the movies. The real test of how successful this premium access idea is will come after things return to normal—whenever that is—and we find out if Disney wants to keep making any of their films available this way. If they drop it, then it was only ever a stop gap to keep money coming in during the shutdown, but if they keep making movies available this way, you’ll know there’s money in them thar hills.