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Mune: Guardian Of The Moon (2015)

In a fictional world populated by creatures of the day and creatures of the night, the Guardian of the Sun and Guardian Of The Moon keep everything in harmony. The time has come for the current Guardians to nominate their successors and an unexpected twist sees a nervous young faun named Mune appointed as the lunar guardian.

Seizing the opportunity in the ensuing chaos, a demon named Necross steals the Sun and plunges the whole world into darkness. Now it's up to Mune, the new Sun Guardian Sohone and a spirited young girl named Glim to journey to the Underworld and save the day.

Mune: Guardian Of The Moon is a French CGI feature from On Animation Studios, directed by Alexandre Heboyan and Benoît Philippon. It's new territory for US Distributor GKIDS Films, as it marks their first foray into full-blown 3D CG films.

Well... that's not entirely true as Mune, as with several other CG features begins with a (rather lovely) 2D animated intro. Unlike those other films though, it returns to 2D in a couple of other places throughout the film, to represent flashbacks and dream world sequences.

It is 3D CG for the vast majority of its running time, however. And it's not hard to see what would attract the distributor to this film in particular.  Mune's reported $17 Million budget can't compete with the resources available to major Hollywood Studios, so instead goes for a more stylised look. The characters designs are relatively simple but very distinctive (and very European). There may be times when the budgetary limitations do show through (an effect showing flowing lava doesn't exactly convince) but they are few and far between.

The real star of Mune though is the world it takes place in. Lush forests, open plains and rocky caverns it creates a whole range of lush vistas populated by weird and wonderful creatures. As giant living temples stomp across the globe, pulling the moon (or sun) behind them, Mune's visuals will consistently wow you throughout. There's creativity and evocative imagery here that mainstream animated films with many times the budget can only dream of. And it looks like nothing else. Imagine if Hayao Miyazaki remade Avatar and you might have an indicator of what to expect, but even that doesn't quite cover it. This is a simply beautiful film.

In terms of actual storytelling, Mune is much more conventional. It's essentially a pretty standard story for a family film, with a plucky young underdog (or in this case underfaun) triumphing over adversity. The romantic sideplot feels a bit shoed-in too, as if the writers couldn't think of another way to include a female character. It's all pretty solid though, with likeable characters and the absorbing world more than enough to carry it through any rough patches.

Although a previous English language version was made for screening in Canada, GKIDS are releasing it with a new US-made dub- and this was the one I saw. Featuring standout performances from Rob Lowe and Patton Oswalt it suits the tone of the material pretty much perfectly.

Ultimately, the fairly pedestrian plot is more than made up for with the astonishing visuals and completely immersive world, ensuring that it draws you in from the start and never lets go.  Arriving in the US in a year where the mainstream releases consist mainly of uninspired sequels and adaptations, this original and magical film is deserving of a much wider audience.


FORMATS US Theatrical
1hr 26m

IN A NUTSHELL: A Journey into a magical and beautiful world that is well worth taking.

*Screener provided by GKIDS Films.*