This French animation did not need an English redub to attract some of film’s most successful behind-the-scenes names. The crew list boasts the likes of character designer Nicolas Marlet (How to Train Your Dragon) and composer Bruno Coulais (Coraline) among others. Universal have now ushered in a cast of American actors for the subsequent release of an English version.
Mune (Joshua J. Ballard) is chosen to be the world’s Guardian of the Moon. A bad day at the office sees him lose both the moon and the sun. He teams up with Sohone (Rob Lowe), the narcissistic Casanova that is the Guardian of the Sun, to go and get them back. They are joined by the adventurous and knowledgeable Glim (Nicole Provost), who is made of wax and will melt if she gets too hot.
The animation is impressive, if almost overshadowed by some dodgy voice dubbing (particularly that of Leeyoon, Mune’s rival for the Guardian role). Even the finer details like the reflection of the moon in Mune’s eyes are beautiful to watch. At some points, Mune swaps from 3D imagery to 2D drawn cartoons, which possess a charming attractiveness in their simplicity. The audience can share in the amazement that the characters have for their own world, and there is an innocent joy in that.
The level of thought put into it makes this world full of magical creatures strangely believable. There is a strong sense of spirituality, tied into the natural world, which helps to give this story a feeling that the outcome really matters. It also stops this feeling too much like a movie for little kids, even if there are some cringe worthy moments blatantly included to incite hysterics among younger viewers.
The characters are likeable – if somewhat generic or, as Glim’s overprotective father is, occasionally underused. Sohone is the typical figure of the misogynistic macho man who attracts the adoration of every girl he meets, although Lowe does a good job of making him entertaining. Glim was seemingly meant to be the strong and independent female character but this status is undermined by her frequent pleas for help. That and she freezes, making her reliant on the others simply for moving around. Crucially though, the relationship between her and Mune feels very real, especially when they become closer to one another.
This beautiful world, feeling like a child friendly version of Avatar’s Pandora, is what makes Mune a very easy film to enjoy. Some of the characters could do with more work, and the dubbing is not of the greatest quality, but is hard not to smile at what is a great example of creativity and world building.
MUNE: GUARDIAN OF THE MOON / CERT: PG / DIRECTORS: ALEXANDRE HEBOYAN & BENOÎT PHILIPPON / SCREENPLAY: JÉRÔME FANSTEN & BENOÎT PHILIPPON / STARRING: JOSHUA J. BALLARD, NICOLE PROVOST, ROBE LOWE, JONATHON LOVE, CHRISTIAN SLATER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW