Raya and the Last Dragon's New Trailer Is Simply Outstanding

Pictured, left to right: armadillo, Raya, weird rock.
Pictured, left to right: armadillo, Raya, weird rock.
Image: Disney
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Last October, Disney revealed the first trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon, and it looked pretty swell. What was revealed was an Asian-inspired fantasy movie felt very Avatar: The Last Airbender, minus bending but plus dragons. This new trailer, however, takes Raya out of Avatar’s shadow to reveal what makes it special, and there’s a lot, including the greatest new character find of 2021: the con baby.

Raya, if you don’t remember, is set in a fantasy world named Kumandra where dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity half a millennium ago from a mysterious evil. Now, that evil is back, the dragons are missing, and humanity is divided into four nations which can’t get along in the slightest.

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Somehow Raya (voiced by Star WarsKelly Marie Tran) gets the job of finding the titular last dragon (Awkwafina) and fixing Kumandra, which probably won’t be as easy given that 1) a warrior named Namaari (Gemma Chan) seems bent on stopping her, and 2) certain babies are already making her life extremely difficult.

Full disclosure: Ever since Tangled, I’ve preferred Disney’s CG movies over Pixar’s as they’ve seemed more interested in being funny and entertaining instead of ruthlessly trying to make me sob hysterically. But the trailers for Moana, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph weren’t nearly as delightful as this Raya trailer, so I could not be more excited for this film, which will be available on Disney+ (as part of the streaming service’s “Premier Access” program, like Mulan before it.) on March 5.


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Rob Bricken was the Editor of io9 from 2016-18, the creator of the poorly named but fan-favorite news site Topless Robot, and now writes nerd stuff for many places, because it's all he's good at.

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DISCUSSION

wheelerguy
Wheelerguy

I’ve been pacing back and forth about this film and its implications in how viable stories from ASEAN will fare to Westerners who want something new and its effect on SEA creators, including ones here in the Philippines. On one hand, I have faith that Pixar has woven a brand new-enough world that respects the source while offering something novel that’s worth jumping off of. On the other hand, I worry that Disney as a whole may be setting this film as a template of sorts for the stories that will pass muster to a wider audience, and also worry about what side effect Raya may have on an impressionable audience who may get exposed to this before the national myths.

Now, I know it’s up to local creators, educators and government to be the one to step up and make their legends known first, but I have this seething bad feeling that everything, even stories of yore, will be compared to Raya and may even be animated like it, throwing away local styles (that look better anyway) in favour of mass-market appeal, which can lead to local artists getting a small share of the spotlight unless they go “Pixar-esque”.

Or maybe I’m just overthinking this or losing faith in what we can do (without outside intervention) and it’ll all be fine. Please, help me shake it off.