Just watched this last night with the family. Fantastic move, amazing animation, great characters & story. (Even without a story I could have enjoyed staring at the animation, especially Raya’s hair, for the whole running time – it was that good!)
But I agree something felt way too on the nose about all the “trust” stuff, and this seemed to sap away some of the meaning of the climax. Like everything felt too easy when they won.
Right, that was the feeling I got too. Along with the heavy-handedness that @Khodu mentions.
Thinking about it with a Dramatica lens, it would make more sense that Faith was the element they were talking about rather than Trust. As a) I didn’t see much in the way of Test and b) Obtaining makes way more sense as a Goal and Concern (finding the jewel pieces, restoring the jewel, restoring the dragons).
I think the main problem was that they often used Faith to the exclusion of any other elements – like it was just by itself instead of in a quad. The IC influenced through Faith, the OS Solution was Faith, but most of the time the OS Problem was Faith too. Just looking at Raya she maybe had an MC Problem of Disbelief, which could have arced to Faith on its own, but it didn’t line up with the OS properly.
I think the intention was a message / storyform similar to The Matrix but Linear. Something like Abandon distrusting one another and you can restore what was lost. If you look at the setup with the world and the dragon-part-named countries distrusting each other, that totally works and feels right. But at the level of what happened in the story, most of the time it was trusting people that caused problems rather than distrust. (The times when distrust or disbelief caused problems felt really strong – like the moment with Namaari’s crossbow going off.)
Also think of Sisu – anytime she was getting in the way and Hindering things (IC Problem), that worked really well. Whereas the Faith stuff felt heavy-handed at times. Of course it’s okay for the IC to talk about the OS Solution a little (Obi-Wan says “trust the Force”, Morpheus talks about believing) but I think the writers got a little lost in that.
That said, for me it was close enough that you could still really enjoy the film.