Why must you do it?
Why did you set your monkey free?
Always giving in to it.
Do you love the monkey, and do you also hate us?
Netflix’s new TV series, The New Legends of Monkey, is a prime example of the infinite monkey theorem. Except that once the written script was typed out, someone actually gave the go-ahead to film this uninspired, insipid take of a beloved Chinese story.
Supposedly based on a classic Japanese TV series that itself was an adaptation of the beloved Chinese literary classic, Journey to the West, The New Legends of Monkey is what happens when you ignore the source material, and try to take inspiration from a copy. It’s building Lego without the instructions, and then sweeping the remaining pieces under the rug, but telling yourself that you used your creativity to do the job.
But it’s not. This Australian series is an insult to the adventures of Sun Wukong, and to the many who have tried their best in bringing the books to life. In an effort to distill the many elements from the original story for a 10 episode season, with each just 22 minutes long, Wukong’s origins are disregarded here, and the tale starts with his release from the mountain.
Who put him there? Demons. How did he get out? Bad special effects. Where are the gods? What gods? Granted, the 10 episodes don’t give the show much room to showcase the minutiae, but for crying out loud – how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman is the very essence of the Dark Knight. Discarding that means you don’t understand the essence of the character.
Throughout the series, the Monkey God aka Wukong is simply called Monkey? Where is the respect? How about a series about the last son of Krypton, but let’s just call him Alien. Or maybe the next Transformers movie can have the lead character of Robot. Want to see a movie about an overgrown Gorilla climb the Empire State Building?
Chinese/Thai actor Chai Hansen tries his best to play Monkey, while fellow Aussie star Luciane Buchanan tries to inject some life into Tripitaka, along with Josh Thomson as Pigsy and Emilie Cocquerel as Sandy. I don’t see anything wrong with the female versions of Tripitaka and Sandy, aside from the fact that both are poorly written.
In the end, the rag-tag four of scripture seekers pass off more as a poor man’s Power Rangers, or as a bunch of school kids trying to cosplay a story they heard, but know nothing about. It’s not really their fault of course, but the show puts in no effort in trying to drum up the lore of Journey To The West, or build its own legacy.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
This monkey truly deserves to be spanked.
Story - 4/10
Direction - 5/10
Characterisation - 3/10
Geek Satisfaction - 5/10