I’m genuinely concerned about movies I’ve never heard of, especially animated films. I know that sometimes there’s that diamond in the rough when it comes to movies that flew under the radar, but for animated films it’s a lot more difficult. A good one requires a hefty budget and some solid casting. So much to my surprise I was shocked that MUNE: GUARDIAN OF THE MOON was not only good, but had a solid cast and crew behind the scenes.
A planet, much like Earth, is populated by various, yet subtly contrasting creatures. Some yearn and thrive in the Sun while others come out to play when the Moon shows up. The Sun and Moon have their own guardians who ensure harmony between the two combative times of day. The two celestial bodies are tugged across the globe by their guardians whom are perched above monstrous, yet harmless creatures that stomp across the globe. The guardians aren’t Gods though, they’re mortal creatures selected by divine and unforeseen powers. So when the guardians retire (or die), the torch is passed.
MUNE follows the journey of a new unsuspecting Moon guardian, Mune (Ballard), who becomes the stereotypical hero of the film as he’s too weak and too young to be a guardian, but is forced to grow through external evil forces. Also working against him, but inevitably with him, is the new Sun guardian, Sohone (Lowe). An Earthly creature, Glim (Provost) joins the two on their journey and as a shoehorned love interest for Mune. Despite how cliché it sounds, there is some genuine fun amongst the three’s journey, together and individually.
While generously ripping off from various ancient civilization imaginings of how the world works, MUNE does find creativity in other eye-catching ways. The animation may not match the likes of Pixar, but it’s the designs, from the characters to the background, are visually original. Instead of wooden characters, the voices and personalities pop along with the animations. Patton Oswalt, Ed Helms, Jeff Dunham and others may play second fiddle to the main story, but their voices add specific flavoring at just the right moments.
MUNE was a hit overseas in its native France, but not so much in the U.S. The French crowds ate up their animated film, and deservedly so. Despite a lot of obvious inspirations from other films, the directors and writers found their own unique voice when it came to the visuals and storytelling. The world that they’ve built appears so massive at first glance, but they’re able to contextualize the important components for brisk consumption. It also introduces and familiarizes viewers with characters effortlessly, something that most fantasy or sci-fi movies struggle to do when given more screen time.
MUNE’s holistic message on individualism won’t be lost on kids, while its themes on community and spiritual coexistence won’t be lost on older viewers. It’s simplistic enough for younger audiences to devour, but is also rich enough for adults to nibble on. MUNE was originally released in 2015, a year where INSIDE OUT ran away with the every animated award category and overshadowed everything else. But looking back on a year that saw MINIONS, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 and THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER, I’m at a loss as to why MUNE didn’t get more recognition or even an Oscar nod.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:39:1) It’s a wonderful looking film on blu-ray, with the bright colors shining through and the darker colors remaining vibrant in contrast.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Audio wise, the soundtrack is lossless and everything else is flawless.
The Making of MUNE (42:15): This in-depth feature goes back to the movie’s short-film roots, talking with the French creators about how their idea evolved beyond a simple idea. It’s fascinating to hear them talk about the slow expansion of this world because they were very dedicated to making every intricate detail worthy of their vision.
The Art of MUNE (2:47): An image gallery that automatically plays. No manual scroll feature.