MONKEY MAGIC has a somewhat complex history. It's the filmed version of a short-lived 2006 Japanese television series based on the classic TV show MONKEY, which was much-loved by western audiences for its bizarre story lines and incredibly bad dubbing. The whole story was original written centuries ago as a Chinese novel entitled JOURNEY TO THE WEST. Like MONKEY before it, MONKEY MAGIC approaches the material from a child-friendly perspective, going for light-hearted and non-serious at every stage, but unlike MONKEY, it's a real misfire.
One of the reasons that MONKEY works so well is the nostalgia surrounding it: the world was a lot bigger back in the '70s, Asian productions were novelties, and the bad dubbing and slapdash production values were part of the appeal. This modern variant, with CGI effects and a whole new cast, has absolutely nothing to recommend it. The script is puerile and seems to be aimed at an audience whose collective age is no older than five years. The actors are fairly poor, and even worse are the characters, who act so over-the-top as to be intensely irritating, not least Monkey himself.
The CGI effects are pretty bad, it has to be said, and the long and lengthy scenes of action are silly and inane. There are occasional flashes of inspiration, but to be fair these seem to either have been taken from the old TV Show or the original novel. Certainly I can't imagine this modern-day retelling to have received much acclaim in the west; fans should go back to the original show if they want to enjoy themselves.
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