Big names easily drag audiences into theaters, and though hit 3-D fantasy epic “Monster Hunt” features an ensemble cast, computer animated baby Wuba has turned out to be the film’s biggest attraction.
Over the weekend, the part-animated and part-live-action adventure smashed Chinese box office records, setting a new benchmark for a domestic movie’s opening day (173 million yuan) and single day grosses (182 million yuan). The film is projected to become the highest grossing Chinese film ever within the next few days.
“Monster Hunt” is set in a fictional ancient world where humans and monsters fight for domination. Song Tianyin (Jing Boran), forsaken son of a monster hunter, accidentally gives birth to a baby monster king, Wuba, and then starts a journey together with the little monster and rookie monster hunter Huo Xiaolan (Bai Baihe).
From this year’s Oscar-winning comedy “Big Hero 6” to global hit “Minions”, many successful animations share one common feature: a super cute character. They are not always pretty, on the contrary, they often look chubby and even silly. But, they have to be cute. Wuba is no exception. The white, four-armed, carrot-like creature with big eyes and a lovely voice melts viewers’ hearts.
The director, Chinese-American animator Raman Hui, who’s best known for co-directing the third installment in the “Shrek” franchise (2007), is captivated by traditional Chinese ghost and monster culture. He told Sina Entertainment that he got inspiration from ancient mythological collection “Shan Hai Jing” (Classic of Mountains and Seas).
In the director’s first scripts Wuba was a fatty with wings, but after more than 1,000 revisions the creature gradually developed into what it looks like now. “It looks awkward, but definitely cute,” Hui said.
Adorable cartoon characters break with what many feel is traditionally attractive. However they are more than cute, but also healing and heartwarming. If Baymax from “Big Hero 6” is the comforting friend that everyone needs, then Wuba effectively stimulates our affection for little babies.
Born to be the king of the monsters, Wuba is supposed to feed on the blood of humans and animals. But to ingratiate himself with his “mother” Song, the little creature forces himself to eat jujubes instead. In “Monster Hunt” themes of adventure, maturation and family bond are intended to make people laugh. But Wuba arouses audiences’ tears several times when he’s on the verge of being abandoned.
Although Monster Hunt faces criticism for emulating the Hollywood style and leaving certain things unclear, buying a ticket for a date with the lovable Wuba still makes the movie a good way to relax on a hot summer day.