Inspired by the 16th Century Chinese fable Journey to the West, The New Legends of Monkey follows a teenage girl and a trio of fallen gods on a perilous journey as they attempt to bring an end to a demonic reign of chaos and restore balance to their world.Written by
After watching 3 episodes so far thanks to ABC iView "The New Legends of Monkey" pretty much confirms what I thought from the trailers - it would be more in the style of Hercules or Xena in that not so serious, campy sort of way that isn't afraid to poke fun at itself with the cliches.
Chai Hansen as the titular anti-hero plays Monkey as a confident, brash character, if not overly confident in his skills and powers. Luciane Buchanan as Tripitaka is simply making the most of a bad situation by being the priest you don't expect but the one you need - being the only one who seems to care about what's going on in general.
They are quickly joined by Emilie Cocquerel as Sandy, a fellow god who plays as a more ethereal spiritual style character and Josh Thomson as Pigsy who also has decided to throw his lot in with the good guys after a stroke of conscience. They're clearly going to be constantly menaced by demons who are keen to see them not recover the holy scriptures and save the day by balancing things out again.
I can't say the cast are whitewashed given there's enough different ethnicities to avoid any obvious over utilisation of any one ethnicity even among minor cast - the average US show would do a lot worse and to be honest I think it's making the most of ANZ actors/actresses that are available without getting too typecast with styles, mannerisms or accents (which can hold a good show back in some cases).
The first eps definitely feels like a pilot that probably could have done with a few scenes having reshoots after getting the groove in later eps, however it is clear from set pieces that care, effort and attention to detail have been involved to have a historical Chinese styling. The CG sticks out as being obviously CG but is usually relegated to wide scenery shots or where appropriate - surprisingly enough a lot of practical smoke effects are used. Music is all computer generated in a '80-ish synthesiser style but seems to fit in fine.
Bottom line - nowhere near as bad as naysayers were making it out to be. If you go in with hard expectations from the 1978 show you will probably be disappointed - this seems to be a recurring theme with shows and movies nowadays. If you keep an open mind and know it's not to be taken seriously at all you'll probably do just fine.
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