Oh, Maui, you deserved so much better.
Before the movie came out and I had to hype myself up with promotional material, Maui was my fave character. He had an awesome design, he was full of personality, and he had the voice of Dwayne the Rock Johnson. I thought he would be the next Wreck-It Ralph; an older male main character who is a little rough around the edges but ultimately becomes a hero in his own right.
Too bad that didn’t happen.
Instead, Maui is pretty much an asshole. For the majority of the movie he is consistently seen as rude and condescending to Moana with a massive ego. His sympathetic backstory (where he really only is like this because he has abandonment issues and just wants to be loved by humans) is quickly glossed over and he has very little character development. He acts like a complete ass, then his issues are revealed, he snaps at Moana when his hook is cracked…but by the end of the movie he says he doesn’t need his hook to feel whole anymore?
What really offends me about me this (besides the fact that this is ANOTHER character with mental health concerns that is written terribly) is that he’s not an original character from Disney, he’s an actual GOD that people STILL WORSHIP and has a rich mythology…and is reduced to a hollow jerk with a heart of gold to make the Disney Princess look like the better character and person. Ugh.
The fact that he doesn’t even get to correct his own mistake or get a proper resolution to his abandonment issues (a simple scene of Moana’s village accepting him as one of their own would’ve sufficed) makes it even worse. Like you cannot set up this character’s role in the plot and not resolve it or expand on it. It would’ve made more sense to just have Maui in the prologue and have Moana do it alone (have you noticed that in the last few princess movies there ALWAYS has to be a man going on the journey with the main heroine?).
The reason I’m bitter about this is that there’s a very poignant scene at the climax (before Moana gives the heart back to Te Ka) where Maui does the haka in front of the lava goddess, fully ready and prepared to die if it means protecting Moana and saving the world. That is SUCH a good scene, but that’s all we get for Maui’s character from that point on.
Apparently Maui WAS going to be the main character at some point, but they switched it to Moana, and it kind of shows. Maui is a MUCH more interesting character and has a bigger role in the story. They should not have changed it. This should’ve been HIS story of how his trickster habits has consequences and he needs to make up for it.
That’s not to say you don’t have to include Moana at all (or that they couldn’t have included Maui’s wife from the original lore). She could’ve still played an important part. In Wreck-It Ralph, both Ralph and Vanellope are fully developed characters that have an equal part in the story. I don’t understand why they couldn’t have done something like that here.
This is what I was expecting from Moana. Not a generic Disney Princess film. A Disney film that actually honours Polynesian stories and their gods first, THEN markets their characters. But I guess I just hyped this movie too much.
And with that, I think I’m done talking about this movie. I let out every problem I have and now I’m finished. I think next time I hear about a movie I’m excited for, I’m not going to hype myself up for it too much or assume it’s going to be a masterpiece. Because I’m just going to set myself up for disappointment.