A Kiwi and Chinese co-production animated in New Zealand, Mosley, released today, punches above its comparatively modest US$20 million budget. A story about fantastical creatures called thoriphants, Mosley is filled with lovable characters, brought to life by fabulous voices, adventure and good, hearty themes.
Kirby Atkin is director and writer (he also voices Mosley) and has created a world where thoriphants, who are intelligent elephant/dinosaur-like creatures, are treated as slaves by humans.
The story begins with an emotional scene in which a young Mosley is ripped away from his mother and sold to a reclusive farmer. Skipping forward 25 years; Mosley, wife Bera and son Ru are still living on the farm, where Mosley does back-breaking work for his master.
A new baby is on the way and Mosley knows the birth will mean Ru will be taken away and sold. In an effort to prevent this, Mosley heads off on a dangerous journey to find the mythical land of Kinesareth, the home of another group of thoriphants known as the "Uprights", in the hope these more civilised thoriphants will be able to save his family.
Mosley is a family affair, with Atkin voicing Mosley and daughter Leah voicing Ru. It's clear they've lived these characters a long time and they're joined by a cast who take great care as they bring their well-formed characters to life.
Lucy Lawless is perfectly pitched as wife Bera, while Temuera Morrison is appropriately menacing as the hunter Warfield, hired to track down the missing Mosley. Rhys Darby brings plenty of hilarity to the role of Deaver, an upright who guides Mosley and it feels like the role was written specifically for him.
While Mosley isn't a top-tier animation and doesn't break any new ground (apart from being New Zealand's first computer-animated film), it's a very welcome addition to the thriving animation genre. Atkin and his team have managed to take some pretty hefty themes, shake them up, and present them back in a way all ages can relate to.
Charming and heartfelt, hopefully this won't be the last we see of Mosley.
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Cast: Temuera Morrison, Rhys Darby and Lucy Lawless
Director: Kirby Atkins
Running Time: 96 mins
Rating: PG (Violence & scary scenes)
Verdict: Charming family entertainment