The current interest in detective movies has given us some unconventional detectives worth watching, from Batman to Benoit Blanc, so why shouldn’t kids have their own super-sleuth? An original IP rather than an imported one, Inspector Sun (Ronny Chieng from M3GAN and Shang-Chi) is an arachnid, or to be specific, a Huntsman spider; he’s on the hunt for clues back in 1934 Shanghai in this animation which originally came from Spain, but has been picked up and redubbed for family audiences in the US.That means we have plenty of precedents; we’re looking back to the kind of storytelling that created Charlie Chan, Sexton Blake and others, and this colourful film aims to translate that energy for a wide audience of all ages.
‘Huntsmen hunt alone,’ explains Inspector Sun; he’s not delighted to have a sidekick in tow, but that’s very much in tune with the need to have things explained to the audience as we go along. Sun is described as ‘lucky’ by his competition, but he’s got his work cut out tracking down the Red Locust, a super-villain who believes in the hive mentality; ‘long live the swarm’ is his mantra, while Sun favors a more individual approach when it comes to insect philosophy. Sun boards a cargo-plane heading for San Francisco, but when there’s a murder, he’s got to figure out which of the various suspicious characters he meets is responsible….
‘A bug in the spotlight is likely to be burned,’ Sun deduces, and solving the mystery is centre-stage here; as a seven-legged spider, Sun has got his hands, or rather his legs full to keep track of who did what. And although things lead to a spectacular finale, with a swarm of giant locusts attacking Alcatraz Island, it’s the way Sun mirrors the classic tropes of the mystery novel and film that should entertain young and old alike.
This is a well-realized production from director Julio Soto Gurpide, a cut above most animations in terms of colour and character, and while the redubbing sometimes leaves a few practical questions unanswered (how did the insects create their parallel universe on the plane?) , it’s a jolly enough romp. Francis Ford Coppola asked why children shouldn’t have their own art-house cinema, but weaning them off the usual super-heroes and sci-fi tropes might be a good start; the seven-legged Inspector Sun gives old favourites like Scooby Doo a run for his money when it comes to the lost art of solving crimes….