2012 New York International Children’s Festival.
Being in fact a monkey, the Monkey King is perfectly suited to animation. Supernaturally powerful, he happily leads the monkey tribe of Flower Fruit Mountain, but his rambunctious nature attracts celestial attention. On the orders of the Jade Emperor, the Monkey King is whisked up to the heavens, only to be given a dubious title and shunted off the a harmless corner of the cosmos. The Monkey King does not play that game though. He creates quite the ruckus before returning to his clan on Flower Fruit Mountain. However, the beings of the higher realm consider his rebellious drive a threat and will not leave well enough alone.
However, the look of Wan’s film, by way of the Su and Chen’s restoration, is truly remarkable. It has a rich lushness, but there is also a mystical vibe that resists comparison to other films. It is also hard to describe the film’s color palate, but it is quite distinctive (and a testament to the filmmakers’ restoration efforts). Some sequences are incredibly graceful, such as the Monkey King’s encounter with a wonderfully cinematic group of fairies, at least until his mischievousness asserts itself. In addition, the restored Uproar is one of the most skillful and refined examples of 3D rendering, aside from Wim Wenders’s Pina. More than just pointy objects jutting out from the screen, the 3D here emphasizes depth on a grand scale.
The Monkey King’s story holds a place of honor amid China’s rich cultural legacy, which the ideological campaigns of the mid and late 1960’s tragically nearly destroyed. Presumably, some purists will debate aspects of the 3D digital refurbishment, most definitely including the 3D itself, but also the restoration directors’ abridgment of the film, the newly composed and recorded soundtrack (directly inspired by the Beijing Opera) and their alteration of the aspect ratio. However, these debates are good to have.