Over the Moon review: An extraordinary, extra luminary adventure that mixes science, magic and family

by Matthew Escosia
Julie Anne San Jose Rocket to the Moon
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By: Carl Cuevas

 

A stellar Asian cast retells the story of Chang’e the Chinese Moon goddess in the new animated musical film, Over the Moon which recently premiered on the streaming platform.

In the film, Fei Fei (played by Chinese-Filipina actress Cathy Ang) is inspired to build her own rocket to visit the moon so she can prove Chang’e (Hamilton’s Philippa Soo) the moon goddess from her mother’s tales do exist to her father, Ba Ba (John Cho). Fei Fei with her pet bunny Bungee and her stepbrother Chin who snuck in the ship before blast-off successfully lands on the planetary satellite and end up in a mysterious extraterrestrial land, Lunaria. There, she meets the Moon Goddess who gives Fei Fei and the rest of the inhabitants of Lunaria a task to find a “gift” that will help her reunite with her beloved Houyi (How To Get Away From Murder’s Conrad Ricamora) in exchange for any wish to be granted. Other cast members include Ken Jeong who plays Gobi an extraterrestrial creature who aids Fei Fei on the goddess’ quest, Margaret Cho, and Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Sandra Oh.

Here’s SEA Wave’s High Five Movie Review:

Family and Community

netflix over the moon

Over the Moon succeeds in presenting the audience in presenting the community Fei Fei and her family lives in as well as deep-dive on the cultural references to her Chinese heritage. While, being at Lunaria presents a colorful bouncy landscape fitting for a typical children’s film.

 

Setting the Setting

netflix over the moon

My biggest gripe with the film, since it’s technically part of the sci-fi genre is that it didn’t give as much importance on world-building. And somehow blurs the line on whether it’s magic or science. For such an interesting looking intergalactic location, we just see the Lunaria but really don’t know anything about it.

 

Folklore, Science and Girl Power

Julie Anne San Jose Rocket to the Moon

Despite the lack of world-building, the story of Over the Moon is about the process of going through loss, grief and eventually moving on. Both Fei Fei and Chang’e resort to questionable decisions in the story, but because it is driven by their own losses, which they eventually help each other go forward by realizing the love they have from the family and friends they have. I love how this story combines the elements of folk lore and science, and that the story is one of the emerging stories that portray a female lead who is very adept and interested in science. So, I hope this encourages young girls who watch this movie explore scientific studies, because Fei Fei was such a bad-ass in the sequence detailing her building the spaceship. I won’t go as much into the accuracy of the film regarding Chang’e’s folklore because I’m assuming, they’ve done their research and at the same time applied as much creative license in retelling the story (I’m sure there’s no part in Chang’e’s story that she builds an acid-dream intergalactic land with bouncy colorful aliens)

 

It’s Asian


Oh and did I mention the entire movie is made by an all Asian cast as well as its key creative team? Awesome.

 

Music


The biggest surprise for film is in its music. Featuring original songs written by Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield and Helen Park, the songs are all performed by the cast and ranges from the more traditional musical theater songs to the EDM-vibe Lunaria songs. Philippa Soo shows off her range bringing depth to the slow ballads and to the upbeat dance songs such as Ultraluminary.  The animated film made waves this weekend as Netflix Philippines has released a song cover for “Rocket to the Moon,” the lead single from the film’s soundtrack, performed by Philippine pop singer Julie Anne San Jose. See related story here.

Verdict: (4 Waves) Overall, Over the Moon delivers a solid animated musical with a visually pleasing adventure with very catchy music featuring a cast of extra talented Asian performers telling a story about an outer space adventure, but with a underlying story about losing and finding refuge in family.

 

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