Raya and the Last Dragon

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Poster Image
 Parents recommendPopular with kids
Charming, epic adventure mixes monsters, humor, heart.
  • PG
  • 2021
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 36 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 79 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Audiences will be exposed to Southeast Asian cultures and will learn about courage, teamwork, communication, and perseverance.

Positive Messages

Strong theme of importance of trust. Lasting messages about impact of grief and acknowledging how those you love are a part of you. Lessons about courage, teamwork, perseverance. Shows the need to overcome prejudice and assumptions to find commonalities with others.

Positive Role Models

Raya is brave, selfless, generous, kind -- also suspicious and wary of accepting help, but learns importance of teamwork. Sisu is powerful, courageous but also sweet, forgiving, trusting, empathetic. Namaari is loyal and persistent but also deceptive. Raya is the first Southeast Asian Disney princess, but the movie's fictionalized cultural tradition isn't strictly based on one particular country, so representation includes elements of several real-life countries. 

Violence & Scariness

Electric-purple blob monsters -- the manifestation of a plague known as the Druun -- attack relentlessly at every opportunity, turning people and dragons to stone. Central characters are impacted; some sacrifice themselves (i.e., willingly turn to stone) to save others. Many have lost loved ones (including children who are without parents/family members). A main character is struck by an arrow, presumed dead. People fight with bow and arrow, swords, knives, other blades. Close-contact combat/violence. Characters must run to escape capture. Dangerous pursuits on ground, at sea. Glimpse of a skeleton. The Fang warriors ride scary big cats. Spine warrior hurls a huge axe.

Sexy Stuff

Hugs and affection between a few couples who reunite after being apart for years.

Language

Raya insults the Fang people. A couple of characters say "badaxery," which sounds very much like "badass-ery."

Consumerism

Nothing on-screen, but off-screen merchandise tie-ins to Disney movies, including apparel, toys, games, books, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Raya and the Last Dragon is an animated Disney adventure about a warrior princess on a mission. Set in the fictional land of Kumandra but based on real Southeast Asian cultures, the movie follows Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran), who for years has tried to find a way to reverse a scary, curse-like plague known as the Druun, which takes the form of relentless purple-and-black blob monsters and turns anyone it touches into stone. Awkwafina co-stars as the voice of Sisu, the last surviving dragon, whom Raya recruits to help in her quest. Grief is a major theme of the movie, and several characters talk about the loved ones taken by the Druun, including children who've lost parents and entire families. Scary sequences involve characters fleeing for their lives from various dangerous situations, including both human enemies and the Druun. There are intense close-up fights with swords/blades, and a skeleton is visible in one sequence. In another scene (spoiler alert), a main character is struck by an arrow and presumed dead. In one very emotional scene, characters willingly sacrifice themselves to the Druun; young viewers may believe they're dead. The movie emphasizes the importance of trusting others and overcoming prejudice to find common ground. And Raya is a standout role model who exhibits courage, teamwork, and perseverance.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJohn A. March 5, 2021

Rated PG (mild violence, frequent threat).

SEX/NUDITY - Very brief sight of a baby's buttocks in one scene. VIOLENCE/GORE - Mild violence features throughout, mainly through fight sequences that con... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byMom0f5 March 10, 2021

A treasure

So many thoughts, but the best thing about Raya is that it kept me thinking about it after we were done watching. I think there are a lot of positive lessons fr... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byDetroitLions21 March 16, 2021

Cringe-inducing fest that could be fun for pre-teens to younger children

More of the same from Disney. But this time they’re putting a hip and cool spin on things by introducing.... modern dialogue that is excruciatingly painful to s... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old March 13, 2021
it is a grate movie some parts are a little scary i like the con baby the best but over all i think it mite be my 3 favret movie

What's the story?

RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON begins with Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran) narrating the history of Kumandra, a once prosperous land where powerful dragons co-existed with humans until the Druun, a plague-like enemy that manifests as relentless purple-and-black blob monsters, started turning everyone to stone. The dragons fought together to save humanity but eventually they, too, were lost -- except for Sisu, who concentrated all of the dragons' power into an all-powerful gem and defeated the Druun. Her action revived all of the humans, but the dragons remained suspended in stone ... except, legend says, for Sisu. Years later, Kumandra has fragmented into five regions -- Heart, Tail, Talon, Spine, and Fang -- who are hostile to and suspicious of each other. Raya, the princess of Heart (which is where Sisu's gem is kept), and her father, Chief Benja (Daniel Dae Kim), invite the leaders of the other regions to Heart for a peace summit. But it turns into an all-out war when the Fang leader (Sandra Oh) and her daughter (Gemma Chan) make a play for Sisu's gem. It breaks into five pieces (each of which is swiped by one of the leaders), unleashing the Druun, which turn Chief Benja into stone. Six years later, Raya and her beloved sidekick Tuk Tuk (Alan Tudyk), a giant pill bug, are on a mission to find Sisu and reunite the gem pieces. They succeed in finding Sisu (Awkwafina), who's sassy, sweet, and optimistic. Together they travel to the rest of Kumandra's regions, teaming up with locals from each as they work to stop the Druun once and for all.

Is it any good?

Equal parts charming, empowering, and epic, this Southeast Asia-inspired adventure introduces the next great Disney warrior princess to join the likes of Moana, Merida, and Mulan. The thorough prologue establishes the world of Kumandra and the battle between the dragons, the humans, and the Druun. Raya and Sisu get a lot of help on their mission from the various locals they incorporate into their circle: young Boun (Izaac Wang), the chef/boat captain from Tail; baby Noi (Thalia Tran), a Talonese pickpocket toddler whose monkey squad will delight younger viewers; and Tong (Benedict Wong), an intimidating but kind warrior from Spine. They band together to protect Sisu (who can shape-shift into a woman who looks more than a little like Awkwafina) and find a way to defeat the Druun. 

The movie's bursts of peril and moments of grief are balanced by a lot of levity (little Noi is hilarious, and Sisu, like the comedian who plays her, is irresistibly charming) and heart. Humor is threaded throughout Raya and the Last Dragon, and Tuk Tuk is an adorable animal sidekick. There's no romance in the movie, which focuses instead on the "found family" that Raya and Sisu create with their new friends. Directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, along with the screenwriters Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, manage to make the characters' orphanhood a touching statement about loss -- it surrounds every character and drives Raya forward to do everything she can to free her father from his stone cage. While this isn't a musical, James Newton Howard's evocative score is fantastic, and the animation is so detailed and stellar that families may find themselves pausing and rewinding just to take in the diversity of landscapes, costumes, and characters. Once again, Disney has managed to take the familiar and make it magical.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about which parts of Raya and the Last Dragon were scary. Does animated violence impact kids differently than live-action violence?  

  • What makes Raya a strong, independent character? How does she demonstrate courage, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Most of the movie's main characters are female, and all of them are based on Southeast Asian traditions. Why is it important to see a wide range of representation in the media?

  • The filmmakers have said that the movie was inspired by many real-life Southeast Asian cultures and traditions. Did you notice any in particular? Why do you think they would choose to set it in a fictional country over a real one?

  • How do the different characters handle their grief at losing loved ones? Have you ever lost someone close to you? How did you react?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy adventures

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate