Monster Hunt is set in a world where humans and monsters once co-existed together peacefully, that is until the humans wanted to take over and banished the monsters to the mountains. Out of sight, out of mind. The monsters became upset with this 'arrangement' and a civil war erupted which saw the monster king slain and the monster queen on the run for her and her child's life. This is where the monster queen inserts her egg into the local mayor of a small village, Song Tianyin (Boran Jing). When monsters where first oppressed by the humans, the human federation of monster hunters formed, I think that's what it was called anyway, and one of these monster hunters, Huo Xiaolan (Baihe Bai) knows that Song has the highly valuable monster king in his belly, so she sticks close by him until birth while other monster hunters pursue the prize.
The first ten minutes were nauseating for me, full of the ultra quick cgi that's hard to follow. It wasn't until the initial ten minutes of cgi excess had passed that the movie had a chance to ground itself in some sense of verisimilitude with the real actors. That's when Monster Hunt worked best ironically enough, when the monsters were off-screen. The little radish was done well, but all the other monsters were poorly animated. The juxtaposition between the actors and the monsters was tolerable, but not convincing. The plot unfolds predictably enough, even with the gender reversal in there. The man gives birth and the woman is the cold and uncaring one as they both begin to bond with the little radish and fall in love as a family unit while noting that not all monsters are bad. Yes, it's that cliche.
The villain's motivations are nonsensical and all the characters are one-dimensional, yes, all of them, even the main characters. As we plod through this mess of monster tropes, questionable cgi, dance numbers and singing, I found it all remarkably unstimulating and found myself wondering if I was merely watching a one and a half hour ad for merchandising all these little critters after its release, as I doubt that storytelling was there number one priority here. The acting was mediocre and the action was perfunctory more than anything else. Huo Xialoan provided the sole spark in the movie, but even she oversold it too much in certain scenes.
The immensely predictable, tiresome special effects, banal story and thin mythology made Monster Hunt quite a chore to sit through. To be fair it wasn't all bad, there was some innocent fun in there, but this is a children's movie, not even for teenagers, this is for children. I didn't know much about Monster Hunt going in because I try to avoid spoilers whenever I can, but I was hoping it would be more about Chinese mythology, lore and wuxia and less about the cute little radish. If you have a child then they'll probably enjoy, but this isn't really for anyone else, definitely not for me.
Written by - The Sentry - 15/03/2016