Review by Liam McGarry
Cometh the Hour, cometh the Moon Man.
In this French/German/Irish co-production, the titular “Moon Man” is a bedtime story brought to life, a lonely protector of children the world over from his seat on la lune above. To the children of this story, the moon man is a comforting presence and a guardian of sweet dreams. When the moon man catches a comet down to earth, he is hounded and then demonised by a ruthless Global President intent on conquering his home. Unfortunately this colourful fantasy, and excellent hand-drawn animation is let down by lazy acting and even lazier screenwriting.
The drawn animation in this film is phenomenal, the sheer creativity and ingenuity the many artists and animators have produced here makes for a spectacular visual feast. The meticulously hand-made imaginative aesthetic feels and looks like a wonderful moving book illustration. Like a sequel to yellow submarine, vibrant colours and otherworldly creatures abound, vivacious and bold against the pale and meek little moon man. The music too, adds to the experience, and at times the film feels like a lost Pink Floyd album video, albeit with more jazz. However it feels a bit much at times, with numerous moon themed songs feeling somewhat redundant in an already moon-heavy production. A minimal approach might allow the audience to focus more on the beautiful images of the film.
The film’s major disappointment is in its sluggish storytelling, and its dull, vacuous characters. The story is told in a series of banal and thoughtless statements, which felt patronising even when considering in a very young target audience. The plot doesn’t offer up much more depth with a vague and unthreatening villain concocting a meaningless plan that is implied to be bad, but is never actually explained. In a standout ridiculous and inappropriate moment, a smart-mouthed seductive woman undresses the president before the frame cuts to writhing lava lamp shapes, ending with an observatory’s telescope suggestively flopping down.
What is most annoying is that the film constantly refers to the moon man’s appeal and popularity as an instantly recognisable legend, without providing any introduction or context for the worldwide adoration of the little man in the sky. I think I would have enjoyed this film immensely if there were no dialogue whatsoever and the music and animation instead spoke for themselves. But as it stands, the awkward, clunky dialogue drains your energy so that by the end, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the images are and you just want it to finish as swiftly as possible.
Much of the voice acting in the English version is performed by Irish actors, who for the most part deliver ridiculous, patronising dialogue with care. However, there were times when it felt like the constant declaratives were being spoken as drearily as someone who had read the whole script might be expected to read it. The one dynamic that does work in this film is the kindling friendship between the moon man and an old and lonely scientist. The scenes of the scientist talking about his new found friendship, and their interactions make for the heartfelt and sweet exception to a confusing and devoid character roster.
A delightful, artistic, magnificent musical experience eclipsed by poor writing and some weird plot decisions. What should be a beautiful and captivating experience is ruined with clunky dialogue and poor delivery, and despite the little moon man’s dramatic character arc, I was left bored and annoyed long before the credits rolled. I would recommend watching this film in a language that you don’t understand, or on mute with a playlist of your own.