Mission: Galaxy opens on Planet Kepler, once a vibrant and fecund home for its inhabitants. A solemn voiceover recalls the tragic day when Earthers trespassed on this beautiful land and ended up exploiting its natural resources to destruction. It’s a heartrending start, but it’s a misguided decision to employ long expository narrative stops rather than letting world-building speak for itself. Presented as “Wall-E meets Avatar”, it has neither the emotional punch of the former nor the latter’s technical brilliance.
The film’s central quest is certainly heroic. Axel, Jono and Gaga – a ragtag group of kids – are enthralled by the history of Kepler. Despite the protests of Papa Qi, Gaga’s father, who used to be an army general, the young ’uns set out to locate the callaro plant, a flower that doubles as a source of energy, now thought to be extinct. Along the way, the trio encounter baddies, discover unknown wonders, and find themselves in the midst of fierce battles.
The animation, unfortunately, does not really measure up to the odyssey’s noble goals. There is an uninspiring flatness to the rugged, achingly barren land, and the insides of spaceships share the same nondescript glossy sheen. The songs that pop up occasionally are dull, too, particularly a sluggish singalong at a pub that feels like a slapdash afterthought. In fact, Mission Galaxy is the sequel to Axel: The Biggest Little Hero, which features the exact same protagonists and also centred on the pursuit of a rare plant. While the film might entertain very young kids, children deserve better than a basic repetition with very slight variations.