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Monday, October 27, 2008

Movie review: "Monkey Magic" (2007)

The gist: While travelling to India in search of some speccy sutras, the priest Sanzo Hoshi and his three disciples – the Monkey King Goku, river imp Sandy and pig spirit, er, Pigsy – arrive in a land oppressed by badass goblin brothers known as Gold Horn and Silver Horn. A cute princess requests their assistance. Yes, it's another rough approximation of that Ming Dynasty blockbuster, "Journey To The West".

Selling points: Nostalgia for the oft-repeated '70s TV series "Monkey", which had kids belting out its theme as they belted each other with brooms long before "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". The first half of this film consists mainly of whinging and fleeing, but the second rewards your patience with memorable scenes including an inventor's gadget-filled cottage and an extended sky chase (yes, Goku still has his cloud). The showdown is an effects-o-rama.

It's kinda like: The aforementioned program – although in upping the production values, "Monkey"'s simple charm has been lost. Gone is the philosophical narration, the music ain't a patch on Godiego's classic tunes ("Gandhara" is covered in the closing credits), and Sandy and Pigsy are way underused. "Monkey Magic" is actually a spin-off from a 2006 Japanese show that never officially made it here.

Final word: Sorry, Shingo Katori, Masaaki Sakai is still the Monkey King.

[Australian DVD release date: November 5]


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