×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

VR Review: ‘Monkey King’

Digital Domain released the first three episodes of its first animated VR series “Monkey King” on Sony’s PlayStation VR Wednesday. Unfortunately, the series misses the mark while trying to tackle a famous legend.

We’ve seen a number of ambitious virtual reality animation projects, but most of them have been one-offs. Visual effects specialist Digital Domain now wants to change that with “Monkey King,” a new animated series based on the ancient Chinese legend by the same name.

That legend is all about a monkey with special abilities, including the power to transform into other animals. In Digital Domain’s version, the monkey is the main character, and we follow him as he trains with Taoist monks, acquires super-powers, and finds himself tested by trickery and deceit.

This may sound like a great set-up for virtual reality, a medium which lends itself to all things magic. Unfortunately, it never really feels like the show wants to make use of the magic of VR.

The sets aren’t very elaborate and don’t invite viewers to look around and explore. Most of the action happens right in front of you, further doing away with the need for a 360-degree stage. Even the few times that a character does hide behind a rock outside of one’s field of view, he doesn’t do anything there, and dutifully walks into the frame before the action continues.

What’s worse, to keep up with a quickly progressing narration, the show uses a lot of hectic jump cuts, which can make for a queasy feeling in VR.

In many ways, “Monkey King” feels not so much like an animated VR series, but a 360 video rendering of a regular show, which could be forgiven if the story made up for it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The show never really finds the right tone, and somewhat breathlessly progresses through a series of events. Especially by episode 3, this simply feel glued together, as if someone had decided to cut down a longer version last-minute.

The first three episodes of the series premiered on PlayStation VR Wednesday, where they can be purchased together for $9.99. “Monkey King” will come to Oculus Rift and Gear VR as well as HTC Vive and Google Daydream and Cardboard later this year. And there are already plans to continue the story in future episodes — but one has to wonder whether viewers will really show this first installment a whole lot of love.

VR Review: 'Monkey King'

More Digital

  • ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the

    MyFrenchFilmFestival Prizes ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the Right Shape’

    Actress-director Noémie Lvovsky’s “Tomorrow And Thereafter,” a heartfelt homage to the director’s own mother, and Fabien Gorgeart’s “Diane Has the Right Shape,” about one woman’s surrogate motherhood, both won big at the 2019 UniFrance MyFrenchFilmFestival which skewed female in its winners and viewership, making particularly notable inroads into South East Asia and Latin America. Opening [...]

  • soundcloud-logo

    SoundCloud Launches Tool to Distribute Music to Other Streaming Services

    SoundCloud today announced a new distribution tool that enables artists to distribute their music to other streaming services. The feature, currently in open beta the service’s Pro and Pro Unlimited platforms, means that artists can upload their music to SoundCloud competitors including Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify and Instagram. “Creators using the SoundCloud Premier distribution feature keep [...]

  • Alison Meyer - Whistle

    Whistle Taps Refinery29's Alison Meyer as VP of Marketing

    Whistle has hired Alison Meyer, previously with female-focused Refinery29, to head up brand-marketing solutions for the male-centric digital media player. As VP of marketing at New York-based Whistle, Meyer will lead partnership marketing for the company’s slate of original programming and branded content. She reports to Whistle president and COO Michael Cohen. Meyer’s appointment comes on [...]

  • Snapchat - NHL Highlights

    Snapchat Expands NHL Pact to Add Hockey Highlights, Curated Stories

    Snapchat is adding more action from the ice under a new multiyear deal with the National Hockey League. The NHL, in association with Disney Streaming Services, is delivering a new weekly highlights show on Snapchat recapping the top 10 plays of the previous week and will produce Curated Our Stories on the platform for select games [...]

  • Hulu Adds Another Interactive Ad: This

    Hulu Adds Another Interactive Ad: This One Lets You Get Offers Via Email

    Hulu lets its subscribers choose the show they want to see. Now the video-streaming service is increasingly letting users choose to respond to certain commercials right away. A commercial from Sleep Number, the manufacturer of the bed with an adjustable mattress, that has run on Hulu for the past several weeks allows viewers to request [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content