The wait is over for those coveting a physical copy of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ latest feature Raya and the Last Dragon, as it arrives on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu–ray™ and DVD today. Along with the film, viewers are treated to a bundle of deleted scenes and bonus content certain to enrich their cinematic experience.
[For review purposes, I was sent the Multi-Screen Edition including a Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Code with no restrictions on expressed thoughts or opinions.]
Raya and the Last Dragon Bonus Features
- An Introduction to “Us Again” – Director Zach Parrish takes you behind the scenes of the Walt Disney Animation Studios short.
- This was a brief (1:20) intro to the fabulous short “Us Again” in which Parrish spoke about his inspirations and gave us a look at the creative process of Keone & Mari Madrid, the short’s choreographers. [To read more from all three of them, see their earlier press conference we attended back in March.]
- “Us Again” – An elderly man and his young-at-heart wife rekindle their passion for life on one magical night.
- This, I think, is really one of my favorite shorts that I’ve seen recently. Both the sense of loss that sometimes comes with aging as well as the persistence of joy are beautifully and painfully animated in a whirlwind of dynamic dancing. Releasing in a year marked worldwide by so much tragedy, the main character’s longing for the past is so relatable, I thought I might dehydrate sobbing.
- Taste of Raya – Dine along with Kelly Marie Tran and the film’s creative team–virtually–over a Southeast Asian menu inspired by the countries that influenced the film as they discuss their experiences creating the world of Kumandra.
- The longest featurette of the bunch at 22:09, this jovial virtual discussion between the filmmakers, while they each ate the same Southeast Asian foods in their own homes, gives insight into all the research and culturally motivated pride the team put into Raya. From a discussion of how much Southeast Asian representation meant to screenwriter Qui Nguyen, to a roundtable of everyone’s favorite moments during the whole process, it gives a nice behind-the-scenes look at the movie and ties in neatly with the film’s use of communal dining as a metaphor for trust. Eat first, or the sight of everyone chowing down on curry and satay and mango rice will leave you hungry afterward.
- Raya: Bringing it Home – When the global pandemic of 2020 hit, production of “Raya and the Last Dragon” moved to the houses of over 450 people. We open a window into their lives and learn how they overcame massive obstacles to make an animated feature from home.
- This (14:35) featurette gave the whole animation team a chance to talk about the different challenges they surmounted as the COVID pandemic forced everyone into their homes. Having each person in a different environment resulted in any number of creative solutions for problems such as standardizing wifi for everyone to avoid things like audio synchronization lag, to creating dark spaces so the colors on the screens could be viewed accurately, to building sound-proof tents in the voice actors’ living rooms for recording. It is a testament to WDAS’ creative persistence and offers a look at many team members cute pets.
- Martial Artists – Get a kick out of learning about the martial art forms and weapons used in the film as co-screenwriter Qui Nguyen and visual anthropologist Dr. S. Steve Arounsack share the inspiration behind the film’s action-packed elements.
- A quick (5:49) but action-packed look at the various fighting styles used in the film and the measures they took to make them as authentic as possible. From the graceful, circular movements of Indonesian/Malay Pencak Silat that Raya and her father use when he tests her as a child, to the hard-hitting forceful Thai art of Muay Thai that Namaari practices, viewers inspired to learn martial arts can actually practice similar techniques.
- We are Kumandra – Meet members of the Southeast Asia Story Trust and discover the cultural influences that inspired the film…and how important this representation in a Disney animated film is to the people of the region.
- At 9:09 minutes, this look at some of the members of the Southeast Asia Story Trust showed the filmmakers getting input on how best to depict aspects of all the many different countries that make up the region.
- Outtakes – Step into the homes and behind the mics of the cast of “Raya and the Last Dragon” as they experience voice-over sessions in closets and shaky internet connections, which made recording this film unlike any other.
- A couple minutes (2:23) look at some of the impressive voice talent assembled for this film, and the goofiness that periodically ensues while recording.
- Fun Facts & Easter Eggs – Take a look at some of the hidden surprises and behind-the-scenes secrets of “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
- At 4:16 minutes, this one is more or less a Cliff’s Notes version of the preceding featurettes, while adding a few extra shots of familiar characters and hidden Mickeys awaiting to reward the careful viewer.
- The Story Behind the Storyboard with John Ripa – Co-Director John Ripa invites you to get an inside look at his thought process as he pitches a storyboard sequence from the film and talks about his amazing career with Disney Animation.
- This was a fun peek into one of the many ways filmmakers visualize how a scene will go (5:02.) Ripa explains how storyboarding works, and then demonstrates it with one of the very beginning scenes of the movie. From shot composition to camera angles, every picture is designed to maximize and further the storytelling
- Deleted Scenes:
- Introduction – Head of Story Fawn Veerasunthorn introduces deleted scenes from “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
- The Bridge – Raya confronts an early version of the Druun in this deleted storyboard sequence.
- Escaping Namaari – See an early version sequence of an introduction to Namaari as an adult.
- Dragon Blade – Discover an early version of Raya’s sword, when it used to have magical powers.
- Meet Boun – Meet an early version of Boun before he was a chef and shrimp boat captain.
- The Heart of the Dragon – Co-Director John Ripa introduces a deleted scene which brought the theme of hope into the film.
- Always fun, the deleted scenes offer additional insight into the characters we know slightly differently today, and a lesson in storytelling as we see what segments got cut in the interests of streamlining the plot.
In case you missed it, here’s the new trailer for the home video release of Raya and the Last Dragon:
Raya and the Last Dragon has premiered on all major digital platforms including Disney+ Premier Access, with 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD copies available for purchase May 18, 2021. It will join the regular Disney+ collection on June 4, 2021.
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