Written by Caitlin Young & Edited by Dave Ong, Ervin Llobrera, Mark Yu
In an age where colorful CGI-cartoons and archetypical live-action heroes seem to be the easiest way to score a commercial hit, it may seem difficult for any child-centric film to stand out. Frankly, it’s easy to succumb to banal jokes and overused tropes when attempting to successfully generate movies from this genre. Monster Hunt, however much it falls into the trap of triteness, still manages to pull through with a fresh spin on its family-friendly fanfare.
The plot is as fantastical as it gets, taking place in an alternate reality of Ancient China, when the human race and monster race peacefully coexisted with each other. It follows the misadventures of Song Tianyin (Jing Boran), a village mayor who wishes to only cook and sew, and Huo Xiaolan (Bai Baihe), an aspiring monster-hunter who spends her days in battle. The fateful meeting of the two, coupled with a recent civil war in the Monster Realm, results in a heroic journey of ludicrous proportions.
To the movie’s credit, it’s an interesting reversal of your typical adventure story, with the male lead doing the housework and the female lead fighting off evil. In an unexpected scuffle with some dangerous creatures, Tianyin inadvertently becomes a surrogate—he is now pregnant with the Monster Queen’s baby (cue the gender-bender gags). Despite arguing all the way, Tianyin and Xiaolan must now work hand-in-hand to save the kingdom.
It’s not difficult to predict where Monster Hunt could possibly go wrong, but it manages to pull off a great story, the usual hijinks notwithstanding. With two live-action protagonists surrounded by colorful CGI monsters, Monster Hunt succeeds in delivering enough laughs and sorrows to wow audiences. Various fight scenes, interspersed with superb visual effects, will surely appeal to all types of moviegoers. True, the storyline targets children on the most part, but it’s not so simple that it becomes inane like other kiddie movies. It’s still boasts of a sensible, well-developed story that can be enjoyed by everyone looking for some fun—regardless of age. Furthermore, the cast stands out by far—Jing and Huo have excellent comedic timing and chemistry with each other, making the film a delight to watch.
Despite pandering to typical shenanigans and predictable antics, Monster Hunt stands strong—there’s no doubt that its interesting storyline and great special effects allow it to more than hold its own against its other CGI-heavy predecessors. It may not deliver the most original, mind-blowing content, but it’s still entertaining to watch—all fun and games without the cringe factor that ruins so many children movies nowadays. Props to it for being an original and well-thought-out story, and for being simple yet not mindless. So if you’re looking for a lighthearted weekend film to watch with the family, then you can’t go wrong with Monster Hunt.