"Trust Empowers Us to Overcome Division"
What You Need To Know:
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is an exciting fantasy adventure with funny and touching moments that help humanize the characters. For example, there are several touching scenes between Raya and her father. The movie has a redemptive, moral premise where trust empowers Raya to overcome division and banish the monsters threatening the land. However, the movie has a strong Non-Christian, pagan worldview about mystical dragons and trust in people rather than trust in God. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution for RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON.
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is an animated fantasy adventure from Disney about a young woman warrior who must track down the legendary last dragon to restore her fractured land and its divided people and save them from an evil force. RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is an exciting, touching, funny fantasy adventure with a redemptive, moral premise, but it has a strong Non-Christian, pagan worldview about mystical dragons.
The movie is set in the fantasy world of Kumandra, where more than 500 years ago, humans lived in harmony with each other and also with mystical dragons who created rain and water for the humans. Then, an evil force of fiery purple smoke monsters called the Druun threatened the land, turning people and dragons to stone. Five powerful dragons used their mystical power to create a dragon gem and then sacrificed themselves to save humanity, but one may have survived.
Now, 500 years later, the people have become divided into five different lands, named after the body parts of a dragon, Tail, Talon, Spine, Fang, and Heart. Raya’s father is the ruler of Heart. He guards the dragon gem the five dragons left behind, but he believes the five lands need to stop fighting and unite once again before they destroy each other. He optimistically, honestly and perhaps naively believes that the people can unite again in peace and harmony. So, he invites the four other leaders of the five realms to do just that. Meanwhile, his teenage daughter, Raya, has just passed a warrior test arranged by her father so she can join him at his side to protect the mystical gem.
At the feast arranged for the five leaders, Raya befriends Namaari, the teenage daughter of the female leader of Fang. The two girls have a lot in common, not the least of which is that they are the children of single parents. Also, they both love dragons and are very nerdy when it comes to knowing everything about the legends concerning the dragons.
However, Namaari betrays Raya and tries to steal the dragon gem when they visit the place on the small nearby mountain where it’s kept. Raya and Namaari start fighting. At the feast, Raya’s father notices a group of men with torches climbing the mountain trail leading to the location. He rushes to the site, as do the other four leaders, including Namaari’s mother.
When they get to the site, the leaders overpower Raya and her father and start fighting over the dragon gem. Suddenly, the dragon gem breaks into pieces. As soon as it does, the Druun monsters suddenly turn up, and start turning people to stone. Raya and her father manage to save a piece of the gem. However, the smoke monsters begin to overtake them after an arrow hits Raya’s father’s leg. On a bridge, Raya’s father gives Raya the piece of the dragon gem and throws Raya off the bridge into the water, just before a smoke monster turns him to stone.
Six years later, Raya has become a grown woman. She is searching for the fifth dragon, Sisu, who supposedly survived the battle with the smoke monsters 500 hundred years ago when Sisu used the dragon gem to banish the monsters. Legend has it that, after releasing possession of the gem to humanity, Sisu was so weakened by the battle that she sought refuge in one of the many tributaries flowing from the mouth of the great river of Kumandra. Raya has searched all of the tributaries but one tributary located in the desert land of Talon. She believes the only way to save humanity from the smoke monsters is to find Sisu and retrieve the other gem pieces so that Sisu can put the pieces back together and dispel the smoke monsters once and for all.
Raya does indeed find Sisu. Raya uses her piece of the dragon gem to restore some of Sisu’s dragon power. It also enables Sisu to take the shape of a woman. Sisu explains that her sister, one of the five dragons who created the dragon gem with Sisu 500 years ago, had the power to change her shape. Sisu agrees to go with Raya to retrieve the other pieces of the dragon gem to banish the smoke monsters and restore all the people turned to stone, including Raya’s father.
Along their journey, however, Raya discovers that it will take more than a dragon to save the world. It’s going to take trust.
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is an exciting fantasy adventure with funny and touching moments that help humanize the characters. For example, there are several touching scenes between Raya and her father. The funny bits include an orphaned toddler and some monkeys who at one early point fool Raya and steal the gem pieces she’s collected so far.
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON has a redemptive, moral premise where trust empowers Raya and her new friends to overcome division and banish the smoke monsters. Both Sisu and her father argue that people have to start trusting one another or the fighting among them will never end. However, Raya’s experience with Namaari’s betrayal has soured her on the idea of trusting anyone. Thus, the movie’s focus on trust is what redeems Raya’s heart, and the heart of other characters. It also heals their world and banishes the evil monsters that turn everyone to stone. RAYA also stresses family and hope.
The movie’s theme about trust is similar to the Christian ideal of faith and trust. In the New Testament documents of the Holy Bible, the word faith not only includes the idea of belief, it also includes the ideas of trust and confidence. In Christianity, however, faith, trust and confidence is focused on the Divine Person of Jesus Christian and his vicarious atonement and resurrection.
So, despite the focus on trust in the premise of RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON and its redemptive allusions, the movie has a pagan worldview that focuses on having trust in people, not trust in God or a Divine Savior. Also, the movie’s worldview contains a Non-Christian and non-theist view of Creation that involves Chinese dragons. In Chinese mythology and folklore, the Chinese dragon is associated with control over weather, water and rainfall and the creation of harmony, like they are in this Disney movie. Chinese dragons are also symbols of strength, power and good luck. Finally, during the days of Imperial China, Chinese emperors used the dragon as a symbol of their imperial strength and power. On a fascinating side note, people in Ancient China have long found dinosaur bones that look similar to the coiled sleeping dragons found in Ancient Chinese art, according to NATURE magazine.
MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong or extreme caution for RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON because of its Non-Christian, pagan mythology.