Last year we saw Netflix’ powerful entrance to the animated feature market which was highlighted by both ‘Klaus’ and ‘I Lost My Body’ being nominated for an Oscar (still lost to Pixar, however). This year we’re likely to see Over The Moon, directed by former Disney animator Glen Keane, to be the one that they’re going to push for a nomination at least. Even if the competition isn’t as high-level that we saw for 2019 films, it’s still just refreshing to see new places where these films pop up whether or not Pixar still is the frontrunner with buzzing ‘Soul’ and already released ‘Onward’. The film follows a young Chinese girl Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) who due to missing her passed mother, builds a rocket ship and travels to the Moon. While there’s a serious lack of own handprint or style, it still has the fun and the heart which has been rarer to find as of late.
On a strictly personal note, it was actually glorious to see an animated movie which was just a blast and had a good time with fantasy and supernatural elements. It’s been a while since that has been the case. Characters (or most of them) really showcase that as likes of Fei Fei and her new ”brother” Chin (Robert G. Chiu) actually feel like children or people their age, everyone can show emotions or crack jokes while personalities are also fleshed out well. Characters’ voice actors are splendid across the board, consisting mainly from people with Chinese roots which clearly adds to the experience. Ang and Phillipa Soo (voice of Moon goddess Chang’e) are especially great, their voices soar on the film’s soundtrack. Ang’s ‘Rocket To The Moon’ number is a stand out but then there is Soo’s ‘Ultraluminary’, dance-pop banger which should be in talks when it comes to Best Original Song Oscar. Soundtrack as a whole fits the colourful scenery to the tee.
The strongest parts of the film are during the first 20 minutes, or at least it feels like that because the journey to the moon just to have action for kids’ eyes feels rather rushed as there was a chance to build up on this clever girl’s ambitious dream. That rushed moment is also when the Disney vibe kicks in, intentionally or not considering Keane’s former experience. Structurally it becomes a carbon copy of everything you’ve already seen but the icing on the cake comes in the form of green blob called Gobi (Ken Jeong). About two seconds before its first line I thought in my head ”Oh no, this is gonna be another Olaf” and that’s exactly what it turned out to be. ‘Klaus’ was an example of a film that captured the essence of what came before but still brought its own voice so it was a bit disappointing to see Over The Moon fall for familiarity. Let Disney movies be Disney movies and you can figure out what you can bring to the screen. Or to the Moon.
Smileys: Voice acting, characterisation, soundtrack
Frowneys: Originality, structure
”What in the Pikachu was that bunny?” also went through my head along with the Olaf thing.