One of the latest animated films released to Netflix is “Over the Moon,” directed by Gelane Keane. The movie executed satisfactory character development, beautiful use of animation and sound, as well as a consistent plotline. The movie also brings in an accurate depiction of Chinese culture, which is usually done incorrectly or even in an offensive way.
This movie takes place in China and follows the main character, Fei Fei, and her family. The movie opens up with her mom telling her the ancient story of Chang'e and Houyi after they are given an immortality potion that the couple plans on taking together. After a robber and forced Chang’ e to take it instead, this causes her to be trapped on the moon for an eternity while her Houyi inevitably dies on earth.
As the story progresses, it starts to take more of a look into Fei Fei and her parents, showing more of their culture as they introduce the annual Moon Festival and as well as their shop where they sell different foods most notably a mooncake. Where the movie really takes a turn is when Fei Fei's mother passes away. This is essentially the real start of the movie, and the story skips forward four years and begins Fei Feis and her father's life without her mother.
While time passes, the two main conflicts that spark Fei Fei's journey are finally brought up. The first major conflict was her finally seeing her father move on and bring home a new woman, Mrs. Zhong, and her eight-year-old child, Chin. She always thought all her dad needed was her and the memory of her mother, so she generally tried to ignore them both, keeping interactions short. She was in denial of the inevitable changes her family was about to undergo. The second conflict is what really sparks the next part of the story when she realizes her family has really stopped believing in the myth her mother always told her about Chang’e. In turn, Fei Fei's plan is to build a rocket and fly to the moon to prove to herself and her father that Chang’e is up there, just like her mother said.
One of the main things this movie does well is character development. Audiences can clearly see everyone's journey and how it all ties together in the end. Fei Fei is finally able to accept she's going to have a new family and that while her mother will always be close to her heart, she has to move on into a new chapter. Other characters such as Chang’e realizes she has a family and people around her to support her rather than be alone.
Another quality feature is how beautiful the animation is, every scene really flows together and is able to really convey the emotions, through the colors they use. The musical aspect of this also really ties everything together. You can see the contrast between songs like “Rocket To The Moon” and “Ultra Luminary” and how they fit into the personality and mood of the character.
One of the most important features of this movie that's usually overlooked in films is the accuracy in the representation of culture. Accurate representation is huge and this movie did everything they needed to portray an accurate picture of Chinese culture. They were able to bring in multiple different aspects from clothing, characters, food, and even the overall myth of Chang’e was accurate and not changed from the original Chinese story. As small as it seems to someone not a part of Chinese culture, these things can be huge for people who are, as we develop more movies and shows the look into different cultures is becoming extremely important.
While the movie could have changed their pacing in some places, for the most part, the story was executed in a good way. However, while it was able to hold onto the attention in the different scenes, some of them seemed unnecessary to the actual story and could have been better off doing other things. For example, the ping pong scene between Chin and Chang’e. Although this was important for the development of Chin and his relationship with his sister, it could have been executed differently since the scene felt random and off from the rest of the mood the movie was carrying at the time.
Overall, the movie was of good quality which wasn’t deteriorated by the fact it was a children's film mainly due to the character’s consistent growth throughout the story, the animation and music, and their attention to detail when it comes to an accurate representation of Chinese culture. This movie scores a 4.5 out of 5 and is now streaming on Netflix.