Raman Hui’s Monster Hunt is a kid-friendly adventure fantasy that may be too slowly paced for its target demographic.
In ancient China, monsters exist but stay in hiding for fear of the Monster Hunt Bureau — and the fact that they’re considered a delicacy by the upper class. Bumbling loser Huo (Baihe Bai) and ace monster hunter Tianyin (Boran Jing) are thrown together when Huo inadvertently becomes pregnant with the monster queen’s child (it’s funny because Huo is a man, and men don’t get pregnant!); eventually, Tianyin loses her anti-monster bias as she spends time with the baby.
The CGI effects are expensive-looking but too cartoony for even an intentionally cartoonish live-action movie. Raman Hui co-directed Shrek the Third, so it’s no surprise that all the creatures suffer from the current kids-flick trend of being shapeless, personality-free blobs (see last year’s otherwise commendable Home for another glaring example).
There are some scary moments among the slapstick, and the picture surprisingly doesn’t pull its punches during its Harry and the Hendersons–style denouement, but Monster Hunt is hindered by its overlong running time and often mawkish sentimentality.
Directed by Raman Hui
Opens January 22, Village East Cinema and AMC Empire 25
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 19, 2016