The Best Movies The Monkey King Review 2023


With uninspired mediocrity, Netflix’s “The Monkey King” fails to take any creative risks and disappointingly lacks humor, heart, or action to engage anyone beyond the youngest members of the family. If you have readers in your clan who are past the stage of being mesmerized by flashy visuals and loud noises, they’ll likely find this 96-minute movie, which feels twice as long, to be a tedious experience.

What elements do you think are essential for an animated film to stand out and become a classic, and how does ‘The Monkey King’ compare in terms of meeting those criteria

The Monkey King

The tales of Sun Wukong, the Mandarin Chinese character known as the Monkey King, have been woven into the fabric of storytelling for generations, finding adaptations in manga, TV series, and films throughout the years. Notably, the influential Stephen Chow, the genius behind “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons” in 2013 (as well as the must-see classics “Kung Fu Hustle” and “Shaolin Soccer,” both directly referenced here), serves as an executive producer, lending some cultural credibility to this American-animated retelling of a Chinese legend.

However, director Anthony Stacchi, renowned for “Open Season” and the exceptional “The Boxtrolls,” falls short in infusing genuine cultural richness into the narrative. What we’re left with is an entirely generic tale of heroism, a road trip movie that ventures to the depths of Hell and back but lacks substance along the way. It’s a harmless animated diversion, suitable for moments of distraction, but one can’t help but feel that one of China’s most renowned legends deserves a more profound treatment.

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The film’s visual and character highlight comes in the form of the Dragon King, portrayed brilliantly by Bowen Yang from “Saturday Night Live.” In a narrative that lacks a true antagonist for most of its duration, Yang’s egocentric demon injects some much-needed tension and finely choreographed fight sequences, thanks to Siwei Zou.

When the film sporadically captures the essence of Stephen Chow’s martial arts whimsy, it gains some momentum. Unfortunately, these moments are frequently interrupted by generic conversations between Monkey and Lin or episodic encounters, often accompanied by heavy-metal riffs that substitute volume for excitement.

“The Monkey King” eventually attempts to impart some life lessons, including a cautionary tale about the title character’s unchecked power in the final act. The script, penned by Ron J. Friedman, Stephen Bencich, and Rita Hsiao, incorporates the actual Buddha into its climax, potentially sparking discussions with younger viewers about peace, acceptance, and belief. However, like many aspects of the film, these themes serve as mere prompts rather than meaningful conversations.

Netflix has thrived in recent years with exceptional animated offerings. While titles like “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” and “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” garnered well-deserved acclaim, lesser-known family animations such as “Klaus,” “The Sea Beast,” and “The Willoughbys” displayed more ambition than what’s often seen in traditional theaters. I approached “The Monkey King” with hope, anticipating a surprise animated classic for 2023. Regrettably, it falls far short of achieving that distinction.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

“The Monkey King” is Netflix’s animated adaptation of the legendary Chinese character, Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King. While this film had the potential to be a standout addition to the world of animated storytelling, it unfortunately falls short of expectations.

The movie begins with the promise of bringing a beloved character to life for a new generation, but it quickly becomes apparent that it lacks the depth, humor, and heart that are crucial for a successful animated film. Instead, it settles for mediocrity, targeting primarily the youngest members of the audience with its loud and colorful sequences.

The story, drawn from the pages of “Journey to the West,” centers around the Monkey King’s quest for immortality, a journey that involves defeating 100 demons with his magical staff. However, this potentially engaging premise is executed in a dull and uninspiring manner, failing to captivate the viewer’s imagination.

The character of the Monkey King, voiced by Jimmy O. Yang, is inconsistent and occasionally annoying, making it challenging to invest in his transformation and growth throughout the film. The addition of a new character, Lin, voiced by Jolie Hoang-Rappaport, attempts to add structure to the narrative but ultimately feels like a contrived element.

Currently available on Netflix, “The Monkey King” fails to leave a lasting impression in a genre that has witnessed exceptional achievements in recent years.


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