‘Esluna: The Crown of Babylon’ Is A Beautifully Animated Adventure [Film Quest 2021]

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In ‘Esluna: The Crown of Babylon’, Maeve Riverflare (voiced by Grace Chan) sets out on an adventure to find her kidnapped mentor, Caz (voiced by Ariel Hack). Her journey leads her to a cult leader, criminals, and a mysterious artifact called the Crown of Babylon. People who watched Esluna: The First Monolith will be familiar with this beautiful world and the characters that inhabit it.

Writer and director Denver Jackson took eighteen months of this pandemic to completely animate this feature by himself. This is remarkable because it looks like something that would come out of a big-name studio. I couldn’t help thinking about video games I played in my day with gorgeous cutscenes. It left me wishing that I could play these characters as if this was the newest installment of Final Fantasy.

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Esluna - 'Esluna: The Crown of Babylon' Is A Beautifully Animated Adventure [Film Quest 2021]

The actual story contains a lot of feelings and a little ass-kicking. As it unwrapped, I could not help but see how probable the emotions were this whole movie. Maeve forgives the person that double-crosses her while connecting with them through their shared grief over losing parents. She then goes onto also reconcile with a friend she lashed out at in anger as he dies. Our heroine ends this emotional journey finally making amends with Caz. Their relationship is strained because Maeve is more comfortable with anger than her grief over losing her birth mother. Caz took Maeve under her wing and has put up with this for fifteen years because she knows this. Maeve tries to come across as this hardened badass but is more afraid of all of the feelings than danger.

This movie was my first introduction to this world but now I want to check out the web series. We will never have too many ass-kicking women who also use their words to resolve conflict when appropriate. Caz and Maeve gave me River Song and Amy Pond vibes, while being their own thing in their universe. It seriously made me want to wrap myself up in my TARDIS cardigan and rewatch their final season together.

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While I had a good time, I do think the movie could be a little shorter. There are a few places where trimming would help with tension or pacing. I also had a few moments of pause with the way a couple of the supporting characters were portrayed vocally. I am not sure if those were actor choices or direction. Neither of these notes is the end of the world, but they do stick out in an overall fun experience. 

Esluna: The Crown of Babylon made its regional premiere at this year’s FilmQuest Festival 2021 in Provo, Utah.

4.0

Summary

Lots of gorgeous imagery to look at while also packing a few important themes and relatable characters.

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