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Stereoactive Presents - ‘Monkey Man’ // a movie review

‘Monkey Man’ // a movie review

Stereoactive Presents

04/15/24 • 3 min

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J. McVay reviews Dev Patel's debut as a director, 'Monkey Man,' distributed by Universal Pictures.

The backstory of Dev Patel’s directorial debut, Monkey Man, is nearly as compelling as the film itself. The film was first announced back in 2018 and was set to begin production in early 2020, though it had to be postponed once the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down.

By March of the following year, filming was complete and Netflix acquired it. But the subject matter apparently made them squeamish and they nearly canceled its release. Eventually, though, Jordan Peele saw the film and convinced Universal Pictures to buy it and give it a theatrical run.

For that, we’re lucky.

It’s an impressive looking film that plays great on a big screen. The action, along with the film’s production design, cinematography, and editing make for a truly visceral experience that becomes overwhelming in a theater, in the best way.

Patel has been a welcome big screen presence since his debut in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionare back in 2008 – even in films that never quite lived up to his own appeal and talent as an actor. And Monkey Man proves that, if he likes, he can create his own path now that he’s a distinguished and capable multi-hyphenate: a writer-director-producer-star.

But he’s more than just capable.

The story he’s crafted with his co-screenwriters is a solid revenge tale that touches on the corruption often inherent at the intersection of religion, politics, and industry. Overall, they’re smart to let those elements live around the margins and bleed into the main thrust of the plot just enough to elevate the stakes and offer a sense of higher purpose to Patel’s central character. That said, the villains he’s after are drawn a bit too faintly, leaving the climactic moments feeling just a bit underwhelming.

But the previously mentioned viscerality of the filmmaking does a surprisingly good job of making the journey of the 2 hour runtime feel satisfying enough to overcome a good deal of that let-down of the climax. And that’s a feat in itself, as so many films with underwhelming climaxes feel retroactively deflated once the credits roll.

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Episode Credits:

Producer/Host - J. McVay

Music - Hansdale Hsu

Produced by Stereoactive Media

04/15/24 • 3 min

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