Saturday, February 27, 2016

Monster Hunt (2015) New York International Children's Film Festival 2016

MONSTER HUNT has the distinction of being THE  box office blockbuster in China. One of the highest grossing and fastest earning films ever, the film played a brief run across the US in January and now is getting a couple of return dates at NYICFF.

The plot of the film has the queen of the monster kingdom fleeing into the realm of men in order to give birth to the rightful heir. It seems that once the king died the throne was usurped and the new king tried to kill the queen, the soon to be born heir and anyone helping them. Meanwhile in the world of men word of the arrival of the queen and heir has reached a man who specializes in serving monster based food dishes. Dispatching an army of monster hunters he hopes to catch the monsters and serve them. In a remote village the mayor ends up pregnant with the queen's baby and ends up being chased himself.

This is a film that has one of the messiest plots ever to grace the screen. Truth be told that almost nothing makes sense, even on it's own terms, and yet because so much is flung with abandon at the audience the film actually manages to get some sort of traction in the second half. In all seriousness there is so much going on here that is only half explained that in the screening I saw I found not only myself but several other people were talking to the screen. By the time the film hits the halfway mark you stop asking questions and just go with it. (And I won't list the things they don't explain because we'd be here for two weeks)

That the film works despite the mess is a testament to the characters, both human and monster. We care about what happens on screen because we care about the characters. Say what you will about the screenwriters they may have used a blender for the plot but they crafted some great characters. I love them all and I find the little prince absolutely adorable. (and the film ends with a monster dance number)

I also love the darkness and adultness in the story, there are pregnancy jokes, one of the monsters is tricked by getting him aroused (not to worry it done so the little ones won't catch on), monsters seemingly  die horribly in the kitchen and people get hurt. This is a family film that trusts its audience to be able to handle adult things and it makes things so much better.

The film is playing at The Children's Film Festival in a subtitled and 3D version. When I saw the film in January I saw it dubbed into English and 2D. I'm not sure what, if anything was changed for the dub, but it seemed fine.  And while the film looked good in 2D there were time in the second half where I really wished I had seen this in 3D. The sense of place in the kitchen and during the climatic battle really would have looked cool popping out of the screen.

Is the film worth seeing?

Yes. As I said it has some great characters, some great monsters and the action sequences are excellent. The kids in the audience ate this film up and were laughing all the way through. The adults seemed to be like me and liked it more the later it got into the film.

The film plays tomorrow at NYICFF and it has one more screening on the 12th. For more information and tickets go here.

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