Raya and the Last Dragon Parent Guide
This is a remarkable film with a compelling, original plot and brilliant visual design.
Parent Movie Review
Five hundred years ago, the land of Kumandra was attacked by the Druun, swirling dark forces that turned people and dragons into stone. All seemed lost until the last surviving dragon (voiced by Awkwafina) used the power of the Dragon Gem to stop the Druun and restore the all the people (but not the dragons) who had been turned to stone. Sadly, the end of the war also saw the end of Kumandra. The nation splintered into five different realms, each named for a part of the dragon: Heart, Fang, Spine, Tail, and Talon. Sisi, the last dragon, disappeared, leaving the Dragon Gem in the keeping of the people of Heart.
Passing centuries deepened the breach between the different kingdoms but now Heart’s chieftain is determined to reconcile the divided lands and create Kumandra anew. He invites delegations from each realm but his guests don’t share his sincerity. A simple mistake by his trusting young daughter, Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran), results in the shattering of the Dragon Gem and a new wave of Druun attacks. Blaming herself for the chaos, Raya sets off on a six-year quest to find Sisi the dragon, retrieve the five fragments of the Dragon Gem, and vanquish the Druun forever. But the Kumandran lands are dangerous and Raya is not the only person seeking the gem…
No one can touch Disney when the studio is at its peak, which it very much is with Raya and the Last Dragon. This is a remarkable film with a compelling, original plot set in a believable, magical, Asian-flavored world. Yes, adults will figure out how the story is going to play out, but the writing is honest and crisp and avoids sliding into sloppy clichés. The storytelling moves along at a brisk clip, tight and tense, with lots of action and some humor to keep young viewers interested.
Not only will audiences be fixed to the screen by Raya’s adventures, they’re going to be mesmerized by the film’s visual design. The tech wizards at the Mouse House have upped their game, rendering the characters with exquisite detail. The work on the characters’ skin tones, hair, and fur is incredibly lifelike as are the textures of their clothing and of the natural world around them. And each of the five realms is brought to life with its own distinctive esthetic, from community layout to building design to clothing styles. The vocal talent is also impressive and Awkwafina owns the screen with her comic interpretation of Sisi.
If you’re considering this film for a family movie night, you will want to keep in mind your children’s scare threshold. There are plenty of moments of peril and quite a lot of violence, particularly scenes one-on-one combat which feel both more intense and more viciously personal than most other Disney productions. This is not the best choice for sensitive youngsters.
For everyone else, Raya and the Last Dragon is an exciting, entertaining film replete with valuable messages. Chief among them are themes of acknowledging and forgiving mistakes and offences. The story clearly shows what happens when characters admit their errors and try to make up for them as opposed to when they become defensive and deny their failings. The power of forgiving ourselves and others is also movingly depicted as is the need for courage and trust to build strong communities. In a society grown ever more siloed where other groups are demonized and dehumanized, adults and kids can benefit from a tale that offers a path for overcoming anger and hate and building a more united world.Directed by Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada. Starring Alan Tudyk, Ross Butler, and Awkwafina. Running time: 107 minutes. Theatrical release March 5, 2021. Updated October 2, 2021
Watch the trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon
Raya and the Last Dragon
Rating & Content Info
Why is Raya and the Last Dragon rated PG? Raya and the Last Dragon is rated PG by the MPAA for some violence, action and thematic elements
Violence: There are frequent scenes of sword fighting and physical combat, some of which are very intense. There are moments of extreme peril. A toddler commits a crime and is chased through a city. A girl has a sword fight with a man wearing an alarming mask. Frightening beings turn people and dragons into stone. A woman knocks a man over for disagreeing with her. A man threatens two female characters with a gruesome death. Several main characters have death scenes. A city collapses on top of people.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated October 2, 2021
Raya and the Last Dragon Parents' Guide
Why does Raya hate Namaari? Does Namaari deserve it? Why does Raya finally decide to trust her? Has someone ever betrayed you and lost your friendship? Were you able to rebuild the relationship and rebuild a sense of trust?
Virana insists that the other lands hate her people because of the breaking of the Dragon Gem. She refuses to publicly acknowledge her role in destroying it. Why does she refuse? How might things have gone differently if she had frankly admitted her errors and tried to cooperate with the other realms? Have you ever had a hard time acknowledging something you have done wrong? What stopped you? How would things be better if you admitted it?
There are five different lands in Kumandra. Which one do you think looks the most interesting? Where would you want to live if the lands were real? Why? If you could design a sixth land for Kumandra what would you call it? What would it look like? What would the people wear and where would they live? What kind of food would they eat?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If you can’t get enough of dragons, you can start with Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George. First in a trilogy, this novel introduces us to Creel, a young girl who is somehow able to communicate telepathically with dragons.
Bruce Coville’s Jeffrey Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, is another story about a human/dragon relationship. In this case, Jeffrey finds a dragon egg and bonds with the baby dragon.
Cressida Crowell introduces Hiccup to a wounded dragon. The young boy names the dragon Toothless and the two begin a friendship that eventually saves both their people in the How to Train Your Dragon series.
Related home video titles:
In Mulan, a young woman has the help of a very small dragon named Mushu as she stands in for her father in China’s battles against the Hun.
A young man forms a mystical bond with a dragon and sets off to save the kingdom from dark forces in Eragon.
When a young boy rescues an injured dragon, they are able to change life for everyone in the village in How to Train Your Dragon.
Onward sees two brothers embark on a magical quest to complete a spell so they can spend 24 hours with their late father.