This is definitely a love/hate series and the second instalment just passes the mark.
This review of Netflix series The New Legends of Monkey season 2 contains no significant spoilers.
While catching up on Season 1 I was frustrated. The series did not warm to me at all — it felt well-crafted in CGI but the writing and production lagged behind the effects. The New Legends of Monkey felt like a 2018 Netflix dud and I was surprised by its sneaky launch of season 2 in 2020 with barely any promotional material to back it up.
I’m not making a complete U-turn now that I’ve seen The New Legends of Monkey season 2. My eyebrows still raise at certain episodes and scenes, however, and this is a big “however”, the second season did somehow manage to grip my imagination by the time it reaches the finale. There are a few bumpy chapters in the second installment but I started to sense its purpose — it’s not meant to be serious or funny; it’s a weird mismatch, serving an equilibrium of experience for the audience. It could easily be determined as a pantomime based on how the characters interact and disclose their statements.
The New Legends of Monkey season 2 continues the narrative strand of Monkey King, Tripitaka, Pigsy, and Sandy embarking on their mission to get the sacred scrolls. Their entire objective is based on saving the world; it’s always sitting there, and it always comes to the surface in the finale — it’s predictable in some ways but in a humorous way. As part of the story structure of season 2, the Demon Council is out for Monkey King’s head and yearn for specific scrolls to help them take over the world.
The writing of the second season is not a marked improvement, however, two years away from Netflix has evidently given the production team to improve the balance in the script somewhat. The characters appear to gel better and the CGI does not feel like a strange gimmick; it actually adds fuel the story. The second installment also sticks to the 30 minutes per episode format so even if audiences have experienced a rusty chapter, it’s not painstakingly long and all can be forgiven in the continuation.
Once you reach the finale it’s difficult to not feel excited for what’s to come. The New Legends of Monkey Season 2 certainly gets stronger as the story progresses. The Netflix series also teased the potential for a third season so we could possibly see a continuation in the future. For the fans, let’s hope it isn’t a two-year gap. This is definitely a love/hate series and the second installment just passes the mark.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.