Hi, just watched this movie. You can find my review on the rottentomatoes site. Hopefully, that is. I had to sign up on the site to post the review and I’m not sure it’s visible, their interface seemed a bit weird. I suppose it’s better if I copy what I wrote here!
(includes a few spoilers)
Hui Buh – very nice for children, fun and funny. The story is creative, although it will be predictable for adults after the first plot lines are set. It’s the typical all bad versus all good characters story. The idea of a ghost that tries to be scary but is too clumsy to be successful at his task is cute. What is nice though, is that the plot actually develops from there to take on more interesting turns, interweaving several threads.
On the other hand, I feel sorry for the writer of the movie, because the casting was one sorry result for the main actors (third rate casting choices) – they all lack charisma, liveliness, and warmth. Even TV B-movies do better than this. The sidekicks, however, like the two ghost hunters, often did a much better job in their acting (with a perfect reincarnation of Laurel and Hardy), and they reached the level of slapstick comedy acting that would be expected in a movie with this level of production.
The actor for the King was the most frustrating – he is often wooden, and at times he transmits that something like a frustration or anger, or a hunger for power (over others) is festering somewhere beneath the surface within himself – something that is a part of him in real life. Watch his expressions very carefully at all times and see if you catch it. Furthermore, aesthetically, in the first half of the movie, all his clothes seem 2 sizes too big, another unpleasant problem with the casting choice. Just how overly thin is this guy, you keep wondering, that everything must dangle on him? He isn’t facially handsome either – I mean, we are talking about a prince-type character here, aren’t we? Have the producers watch Disney’s Snow White or any decent Prince movie and redo their movie. They were not going for a Shrek message (who cares about the exterior, it’s inner beauty that counts) – these ARE supposed to be Prince and maiden archetypes -so physical appearance counts. We wonder if this actor was chosen after the 3D Hui Buh ghost character had been defined, so as to sort of match the drawing, while leaving us with a very second rate actor. He goes through the motions of his part, he talks, walks, and runs, that is, he moves about, but nothing good comes out of himself. I felt sorry for the actress who had to kiss him. He was just “performing” in the bad sense.
The servant who gets the King doesn’t do anything special in the movie until they both declare their undying love for each other, and then become a team, basically out of nothing more than a couple of glances, which again seemed stupid and vapid. She has very little personality and says nothing for most of the story, except telling the boy that ghosts don’t exist and how much she loves the King.
The animation artistry is without question. It’s very well done, and it comprises an enormous variety of facial expressions, very elastic and expressive movements, gestures, etc., enriching the Hui Buh character a lot. It’s snappy, appropriately caricatural, an excellent job all around.
The make-up artist/team also did an excellent job (along with the costume designers). Obviously this refers in particular to all the ghosts, their outfits, etc. The various funny ideas for the ghosts, leaving in the character the mark of their death, like the iron scaffolding piece traversing the guy’s waist or the top army general with the big see-through hole in his mid-section become particularly fun when we see them walking around. Kudos for the writer. The sets are also very nicely done, and fun, all the asynchronous puns with technology, etc.As I said, everything surrounding the main characters is of excellent professional movie quality (for children’s entertainment movies), which is why it’s a pity that the main characters are so weak.
The turns in the plot to make people become friends and help each other, up to the point of becoming family, also add a nice touch. On the other hand, the last message from the boy’s deceased father seems “too little, too late,” like a clumsy plot line that was never given its proper place with the rest. The movie is not about the boy grieving for his father, even if he goes to ghost village in search of him, and it seems there isn’t any expression of loss or pain in any realistic sense. So, then the “resolution” with that final message just seems tacky at the end, like here, take this bandaid, put it over your pain, loss, or search for your father, and be done with it, because we are out of time and everything must end in false Hollywood fashion of no problems remaining.
Overall, nice and fun entertainment for kids, various good messages in the story, great visuals, sorry acting and casting.