Disney has released the official full trailer for its upcoming animated film, Raya and the Last Dragon, with Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina voicing the titular characters. It has the distinction of being the first Disney animated feature to be remotely developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, working with home equipment and mostly communicating via Zoom. The pandemic also caused the film’s release date to be shifted multiple times. It’s now slated for a March 5 release, both in theaters and on Disney+ with premier access.
Disney first announced the film during its 2019 D23 Expo and presented co-directors Don Hall (Big Hero 6, Moana) and Carlos Lopez Estrada (Frozen II, Blindspotting) at D23 the following year. The fictional fantasy land of Kumandra was inspired by several different Southeast Asian cultures—Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, and the Philippines—and the production team traveled extensively to most of those countries to research the film. A Lao visual anthropologist also reviewed the final designs.
Per the official synopsis:
Raya and the Last Dragon takes us on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.
In addition to Tran (The Last Jedi, Rise of Skywalker) and Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell) as Sisu, the water dragon, the all-star cast includes Alan Tudyk (Resident Alien, Firefly) as Raya’s BFF and trusty “steed,” Tuk Tuk, whom Hall has described as a cross between a fuzzy bear and “an insect version of an armadillo,” per Entertainment Weekly. Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) voices Raya’s nemesis, Namaari; Sandra Oh (Sideways, Killing Eve) voices Namaari’s mother, Virana; Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hawaii Five-O) plays Raya’s father, Chief Benja; Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange) plays a giant named Tong; Isaac Wang plays a 10-year-old “entrepreneur” named Boun; and Thalia Tran pays a baby con artist named Little Noi.
The trailer opens with Raya encountering Little Noi, seemingly abandoned in an alley, only to discover the tiny con artist has some formidable acrobatic and martial arts skills. She recruits the tot for her quest to find the last dragon, along with Tong and Boun. But they are not the only ones hunting for Sisu, and when Raya finally finds her, Namaari and her followers are lying in wait. “You and the dragon are coming with me,” Namaari declares, but Raya isn’t having it. “My sword here says we’re not.” We can probably expect an epic showdown between these two at the film’s finale.
Raya and the Last Dragon premieres on March 5, 2021, simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ (with premier access) because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Listing image by YouTube/Disney