Mune

Author: Benoît Philippon
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Storyline: 5
Dialogue: 6
Characterization: 6
Writer’s Potential: 6

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Recommendation?

Pass

Logline:

When demons steal the sun and the moon, two sworn guardians set off to retrieve them.

Synopsis:

On a planet that resembles Earth but has different continental shapes, a huge comet whizzes through the sky. The planet’s inhabitants — anthropomorphic creatures who are all made out of natural substances like dirt, plants, or water — see this as a sign from the gods to select new guardians of the sun and moon. A square-jawed, cocky blacksmith, SOHONE, thinks he’s the obvious choice to guard the sun. He and the other villagers go to an arena where competitions to select the guardians will take place (like a fantastical Olympics). Meanwhile, HYUL, the current moon guardian, asks the moon for guidance in selecting his replacement. The moon reveals the path to MUNE, a sweet but introverted kid. Hyul isn’t sure. He joins XOLAL, the sun guardian, at the arena. Sohone competes — he’s clearly the favorite, but MOX tries hard to outrank him. Mox is a demon currently disguised as a cherub. With his cronies SPLEEN (depressed) and ULLULA (a proudly independent girl), he intends to cheat his way to the guardian slot.

GLIM, a girl made of wax, desperately wants to see the championship games, but her father won’t let her leave the house. She’s to stay indoors, where fans can keep her cool. Angered by his controlling attitude, Glim leaves the house and immediately starts to melt. Glim’s father drags her back inside and begins to massage her shape back to normal before the wax hardens. She’s allowed to go to the “night side” of the arena, which is positioned right at the divide between day and night (depicted more like the moon than Earth). Ullula begins to compete for the moon guardian, but Hyul is unimpressed with her or anyone else. When Mox loses to Sohone, he joins the moon guardian competition. The final event is to stand in a pond of water and wait for a fawn to approach the purest of heart. Obviously that’s not Mox, Ullula, or Spleen — but it’s not anybody else, either. Frustrated, Hyul calls for the moon to send them the right man for the job. The moon dispatches a flurry of bats, who drop Mune into a pond. The fawn responds instantly.

Sohone smugly tells Mune not to make him look bad. The elder guardians lead them to their guardian temples, to show them the ropes. Mox, Spleen, and Ullula transform back to their regular forms, creatures made of lava (which appears hard and ashy on the surface but red and bubbling when they’re in hell). They’re accosted by NECROSS, the Lord of Darkness, who sent them to retrieve the sun. Without the sun in his possession, Necross will never be able to take over the world. He gives them one more chance. Spleen pops antidepressants like candy. Mune is panicky and neurotic in his post. Eventually, he can’t take the distance from the moon anymore. He goes out to the forest and climbs the tallest tree. He reaches up to the sky — and it turns out the stars and moon are tiny and within reach. Mune grabs the soccer ball sized moon and hides it back in the temple, unaware that he’s plunged the entire night half of the planet into total darkness — and has also stopped the movement of the ocean, among other things. Sohone notices the changes right away and knows something’s up. Unwilling to abandon the sun, he throws a huge chain around it and carries it like a helium balloon to the moon temple.

While Sohone and Mune argue, Mox and company steal the sun. This causes a slight tremor as the planet stops revolving — it no longer has anything to revolve around. It also plunges the entire planet into complete darkness — well, except the forest, which Mox sets on fire. Mune goes into the forest to ask the woodland creatures for help. Together, they slowly get the wildfire under control. Thrilled to have the sun back, Necross tosses it into a pit of lava, which will slowly destroy it. Once the fire’s out, Sohone realizes the sun is missing. The woodland creatures tell Mune (who can communicate with them) that it’s fallen into Necross’s hands. Mune agrees to help Sohone find the sun. Sohone balks at it until Glim shows up. Mune is immediately attracted, but Glim ignores him for Sohone. She wants to join the three of them to help get the sun back. Looking for a light source, Mune calls a bunch of fireflies to lead them on their path. Mune leads them to the ocean, where many creatures that have never seen the sun live. They find most of the fish are gone, spooked by the lack of waves, but Glim is attacked by a giant squid. Mune saves her, but Sohone takes the credit. As they’re ready to leave, PHOSPHO, a sea creature whose bioluminescence will light their journey, reveals himself. He agrees to help them by calling “shadow soldiers” to help them.

Meanwhile, in Necross’s creepy laboratory, Mox learns the hellish research on how to destroy the planet with carbon emissions, radiation, and chemical waste. Necross explains that it will take seven days for the sun to burn out completely, so he’s merely waiting before sending his troops to the surface. Mox warns that the guardians have banded together to stop them. Ullula suggests stealing the moon and keeping it as a hostage. Necross thinks that’s a great idea and sends them on their way. Phospho leads the guardians and Glim to the Land of Shadows, where the brightness of his body lures out the shadow warriors — which includes shadows of themselves. Sohone’s shadow immediately attacks the real Sohone. Phospho commands them all with authority. Glim’s attraction shifts to Mune, which Sohone doesn’t like at all.

Birds warn Mune about Spleen being sent to retrieve the moon. Phospho sends Mune and Glim to recover it, while he leads Sohone toward hell to retrieve the sun. Mox and Ullula enter the “forbidden territory,” a land where illusions drive people insane, and take two mysterious doors. They go to a crossroads marking the forbidden territory in one direction and the Doors of Darkness in the other, and use the doors to create the illusion that switch the directions — leading Phospho and Sohone right into the forbidden territory. Glim has trouble keeping up with Mune, but Mune doesn’t want to slow down for fear that Spleen will get to the moon before they do. Another group of bats come and pull them off their feet, in the direction of the moon temple. As they enter the Path of Illusions, Phospho imagines a churning sea that he’s desperate to get back to, but Sohone points out that it’s nothing but jagged rocks at the bottom of a steep cliff.

Spleen gets to the moon first and takes it to a hidden cave. Trying to figure out where to hide it, Spleen recalls a conversation with his therapist and decides the solution will be inside it. He figures out a way to hide the moon within his own nightmares. Mune finds Spleen in his hidden cavern and demands to know where the moon is. Sohone hallucinates seeing the sun behind a tree. When he reaches the tree, he finds a perfect replica of himself. Sohone draws his sword and fights his double. From the perspective of the others, he’s merely hitting himself with a sword. Phospho realizes they’re on the Path of Illusions. Only the shadows can keep their sanity, because illusions don’t cast shadows. Sohone’s Shadow tries to keep their sanity in check, but when that doesn’t work, he knocks them unconscious. In the cavern, Spleen explains what he did with the moon. While Glim watches over them, Mune and Spleen both take a sleeping agent. Mune enters Spleen’s nightmare world. It’s a strange desert world full of creepy flying worms and distorted, terrifying variants of people Spleen knows in real life. They run through a lava labyrinth until they reach an alley where the moon is hidden — but they’re accosted by dozens of huge, terrifying Necrosses. Unable to wake up, Mune decides to take control of the dream, showing Spleen a happy dream for the first time in his life. The landscape changes to a more pleasant, serene environment, and the Necrosses turn into harmless children. Spleen is thrilled to see this.

Mune finally wakes, to see Glim smiling at him. Mune explains that Spleen has decided he’d rather stay in his dream world. Spleen slowly vanishes. Glim thinks it’d be smart to hide the moon in her own dream. They fall asleep together, and Mune sees Glim’s dream: that the two of them will fall in love and spend a long, happy life together, dancing under the light of the moon. An elderly version of Glim gives Mune a key — the key to her dreams. Within the dream, Mune and Glim case. They’re startled awake by Mox and Ullula, who have bound and gagged them. Mox and Ullula take the sleeping agent, but it doesn’t work. They pick up and Mune and Glim to take them back to hell — when they both drop into slumber. Glim uses their lava base to melt herself enough to get out of the ropes. She frees Mune, and they race to the Earth’s core. Meanwhile, Phospho, Sohone, and the shadows arrive in the Valley of Death as the weather conditions grow increasingly cold and bitter. The sun is dying. Sohone tries to cut their way through a bramble patch, but he’s losing his strength as the sun dies. They finally make it to a ravine. Across a bridge are the Doors of Darkness, but as they cross, the bridge and ravine seem to expand exponentially. Mune and Glim arrive on the other side of the bridge, just in time to see it snap under the pressure. Before they can die, THE WIND sweeps them back up and offers assistance. Beyond the Doors of Darkness, they find…an elevator. They get in and take it down to the core.

The heat terrifies Glim, so The Wind surrounds her to keep her cool. Necross announces to his men that it’s finally time to unleash their numbers on the unsuspecting population. Their research into climate change and unnatural destruction will only aid their victory. When Sohone hears this, he gets angry and attacks Necross. They fight, but Sohone is weakened. It’s quite a struggle. Phosphos tries to enter the fray but fails. Meanwhile, Mune and Glim lead the shadows down to the lab, where they finally find the Corridor of Hell. Simultaneously, Sohone and Necross arrive their in their battle. They finally reach the sun, in a cage at the end of the corridor, and see a tiny flicker of light from it. Mox and Ullula get in the way, fighting with Mune and Sohone. Glim, meanwhile, sees what must be done — they can’t get the cage open, so she makes the choice to sacrifice herself to save the sun. She sends The Wind away and melts her way through the bars. She attaches herself to the candle and orders them to blow on it. The Wind springs into action, surrounding the “candle” and quickly bringing it back to life. The sudden brightness and positive energy annihilates the demons for good.

Mune puts Glim in a jar, and the wind ushers them all back to the surface. Mune uses the key to Glim’s dreams to retrieve the moon. In the night half of the planet, he and The Wind reshape Glim into her old self, but she doesn’t reanimate. Mune decides to crumble bits of the moon over it, hoping the moon dust will bring her back to life. It does! They share a warm hug and kiss. Phospho and Sohone watch. Sohone is somewhat happy for them. He returns to his temple. Phospho returns to the sea, and The Wind moves into the forest, creating a gentle breeze on the trees. With the sun shining once again, the Earth begins to reenergize, slowly but surely, starting its revolution and its tides once again. Under the light of the moon, Mune and Glim dance, clearly in love.

Comments:

Mune is a visually compelling, sometimes clever children’s story. However, its adult themes take up too much of the story to engage kids, but the story is too simplistic and childlike for adults to enjoy. As written, it merits a pass.

The first act possesses a great deal of visual flair and imagination. Using the ancient notion of solar and lunar gods to drive an adventure about the theft of the sun and moon is a really interesting idea that could easily appeal to kids. Unfortunately, in the effort to add variety to the visuals, the writer frequently loses focus on the story itself in order to concentrate on the unique locations and characters found throughout this story. It’s very vivid and will undoubtedly be animated with a great deal of care — but the visuals don’t make the story compelling.

More than that, in the second act, the visuals take a turn for the creepy, which immediately loses a younger audience. One of the central locations is hell, and two of the big set-pieces involve terrifying hallucinations and even more terrifying nightmares. It’s the kind of material that will give kids actual nightmares, which likely isn’t the desired goal. In that same vein, though, the writer injects an unsubtle political statement throughout the second half about the dangers of global warming that is bound to bore kids and annoy parents. It also doesn’t quite fit the story, which takes place in a world where man-made pollutants don’t exist and the only climate change they need to worry about is the permanent winter caused by the theft of their sun.

The third act succeeds, more or less. The fight sequences and suspense during the showdown with Necross and the race to reignite the son all work fine. However, the writer devotes too much energy to the love story between Mune and Glim. As with other aspects of the story, the writer mostly plays it as too adult for kids to enjoy. There’s nothing depraved or sexual about it, but it’s a surprisingly complex love story — too complex for kids, but too simplified to engage adults. Similarly, the Earth’s core/hell setting in the third act might unnerve kids, although not as much as Spleen’s nightmares.

Personality-wise, the characters are mostly clownish stereotypes, but that’s not a bad thing for this type of story. The writer does give each character fun, unique physical attributes — Glim’s candle wax physique, Sohone made mostly of armor, the demons’ lava skin — which makes them all a bit more interesting and unusual than one might expect.

While the core personal conflict between Mune and Sohone — one shy, one arrogant — comes across well, it’s worth noting that Mune lacks any sort of ambition or interest in what he’s doing. He’s the quiet, bookish type, but he doesn’t yearn to be more like Sohone (thus setting up an intent to prove himself on this adventure) or have any real goals, other than retrieving the sun and moon. On the one hand, it’s nice that the writer avoids the cliché of the nerd wanting to be cool and athletic. On the other, it’s hard to get invested in the character — even on a kid level — when he seems to have no interests or goals to drive a change within him over the course of the story. In fact, he doesn’t change much at all after proving his worth to Glim in the first act. It would have been nice to see a more meaningful transformation in his personality that kids can empathize with or aspire to achieve in their own lives.

The visuals are wonderful, but overall, it’s hard to imagine the creepy imagery and too-adult-for-young-kids tone finding a sizable audience.

Posted by D. B. Bates on February 2, 2010 11:09 PM