RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is a remarkable film for a number of reasons but perhaps the most unique facet is its creation in a world in the grips of a global pandemic that would alter not just the production but also its release.
After dropping on Disney+ Premier Access and mostly skipping the big screen (most locales with Disney+ did not have theatrical runs), the film is available to bring home on all major digital platforms and will be coming to 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, and DVD beginning May 18, 2021. The bonus features, we’re happy to report, are plentiful and all of them awesome!
One of the coolest bonus features is not even intended as one: it’s the main menu — specifically the background music! Often times, the navigable menus for home releases are chaotic, frantic, and feature clips of characters screaming at you. For RAYA, we literally just have relaxing rain sounds. It was so soothing I actually left the main menu screen on for quite a while as background ambiance. It was lovely and it loops nicely.
As for ACTUAL extras… US AGAIN is included and is quite possibly one of my most favorite animated short films. It’s a beautiful story without dialogue featuring an elderly couple rekindling their passion. It’s ugly-cry-worthy material and it’s beautiful. There’s an Introduction which features director Zach Parrish sharing some behind-the-scenes footage and him talking about realizing this amazing short film.
Taste of Raya is a cute piece but almost anxiety inducing as it’s essentially one long conference call with cast and crew uniting in the ubiquitous grid of faces that has become all to familiar in the past year. Kelly Marie Tran and the film’s creative team meet up virtually sharing Southeast Asian cuisine inspired by the countries that influenced the film.
Raya: Bringing it Home is my favorite feature in this release mostly because it’s so insanely different. More than a dozen members of the cast and crew, including Kelly Marie Tran, share details on the crazy process of moving production of a world-class Animation Studio into a work from home situation. From setting up voice recording stations in closets to coordinating remote IT needs for more than 450 people, this is a super interesting piece both as a time capsule for its production and because of the novel ingenuity required to keep moving forward.
Martial Artists features co-screenwriter Qui Nguyen and visual anthropologist Dr. S. Steve Arounsack sharing the inspiration for the films fights including a blend of styles such as pencak silat, arnis, muay thai, and more.
We are Kumandra showcases one of the best parts of Disney’s process for creating new adventures: its story trusts. The Southeast Asia Story Trust helped influence not just the story direction but also how the region and its cultures are represented; from the fabrics and clothing to the languages, customs, and foods.
Outtakes are always really fun and as an animated feature, it’s no surprise RAYA’s gaffs come from the recording sessions with the added touch of unpredictability caused by working from home. Whether its choppy wifi, noisy neighbors, or Awkwafina’s persistent cat, there’s some unique fun twists to this blooper reel. Also, Kelly Marie Tran is absolutely adorkable.
Fun Facts & Easter Eggs is a fun feature aimed more for the littles basically compressing the interesting elements from the other features (plus a little more) into a fun and easily digestible format… and yes, hidden Mickeys.
The Story Behind the Storyboard with John Ripa gives a quick behind-the-scenes look at an important part of the animation process: storyboarding. He shares details in one particular sequence featuring young Raya and goes through the process in wonderful nerdy detail.
Deleted Scenes are a de facto home release requirement. Here, we get a five plus an introduction by Head of Story Fawn Veerasunthorn. Here’s the descriptions courtesy of Disney:
- 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.
See it for Yourself
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON is already on all major digital platforms, it drops on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD beginning May 18, 2021.
The film will be available for all Disney+ subscribers starting June 4, 2021. It’s unclear at this point how many bonus features will be available on the popular streaming service.