DIRECTOR: kirby atkins (debut)
starring voice talent: lucy lawless, rhys darby, john rhys davies, and temuera morrison
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A species of creatures called Thoriphants rebel against their life of servitude to mankind and embark on a treacherous journey.
There used to be a running line when it came to a NZ film: 'Well, its good. For a New Zealand film.' But not anymore. Now we've had hit after hit on our hands from Whale Rider, to anything Taika Waititi touches, to The Lord of the Rings trilogy (yes, I know technically it was American money making it an American movie but we're gonna claim it!) Mosley is the third feature length animated film made in New Zealand and although its very existence is a technical achievement, its narrative is good for a New Zealand film?
Mosley and his family of four-legged Thoriphants (intelligent creatures who can speak like humans) live a life of servitude to mankind. In an attempt to free his family from this hard life, Mosley goes on a perilous journey to the ancient mystical city of Kinesareth to find the Uprights, the legendary Thoriphants who walk on two legs, and bring them back to free his people.
Think of any major animation studio in the world from Disney to Laika and all of their films have a really solid narrative plot, one that is concise and easy to follow. Unfortunately Mosley is not in that category.
The plot mainly breaks down after the first act when Mosley heads off to find the Uprights and leaves his family behind. Whenever his adventure starts to build, it cuts back to his family on the farm and does so throughout the rest of the film losing all momentum. The Good Dinosaur is a similar film in that Arlo, a young dinosaur, must make his way home to his family who have no idea where he is. But they don't cut back and forth to the waiting family, they stick with their protagonist which gives the film great narrative flow.
As well as pacing there are some random, inexplicable incidents that occur that keep niggling at you the more they occur. Because of this inconsistency in the narrative pacing and inexplicable incidents, this really effects the tone of the film too.
The animation on the other hand is slick and for the most part would hold up to any other animated film that Hollywood would produce. The Thoriphants are wonderfully and superbly animated as well as the depth and richness of the world in which they inhabit. Also Rhys Darby's characters introduction brings some needed levity and humour to proceedings.
The world of the animated film is a cut throat one. Laika's Missing Link although beautifully animated and earning critical acclaim bombed at the box office, putting the company at risk. Despite its faults I really hope that Mosley succeeds for the sole reason of having a company that makes feature length animated films in New Zealand.
Although technically beautiful, Mosley has some major narrative flaws.