‘Inspector Sun And The Curse Of The Black Widow’ Review – A Stale Murder Mystery Bursting With Antiquated CGI Animation
Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow is a film that offers an unfunny and unoriginal glimpse into the world of insect sleuthing.
Distributed by Viva Pictures, the animation studio responsible for The Amazing Maurice and Monkey King: Hero is Back. Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow follows the story of a seven-legged huntsman spider (Inspector Sun) who is a blundering, borderline idiot of a detective that insists on working alone.
After the villainous Red Locust turns himself in, Inspector Sun is suspended indefinitely after consistently taking matters into his own hands on the job.
Starting in 1934 Shanghai, the film sees Sun eventually boarding a plane going to New York. Despite technically no longer being an inspector, he is dragged into a murder mystery taking place aboard his plane; a perfect opportunity for the titular character to solving the case, save any other potential victims, and restore his name.
Directed by Julio Soto Gurpide (2017’s CGI-animated film Deep) and written by Rocco Pucillo (visual effects coordinator for The Polar Express, Monster House, Snow White and the Huntsman, and R.I.P.D.), Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow is an animated film that is incapable of catering to a specific audience.
The character designs and overall visual aesthetic of Inspector Sun looks similar to A Bug’s Life or Antz — and not in a good way. The animation style looks like it’s 25 years out of date while the film looks like something you’d find sitting on Dollar Tree shelves in the next couple of years. The slight upside is that the hairs on the insect characters are animated extremely well, but the renders seem to fall apart when humans are needed to be seen up close. At least with The Amazing Maurice and Monkey King: Hero is Back the writing made up for the lackluster writing style, which was the hope with Inspector Sun.
Unfortunately, Inspector Sun isn’t funny, the story is entirely dull, and nearly everyone gets on your last nerve. The titular character is attempting to be this amalgamation of Inspector Jacques Clouseau from the Pink Panther films and Hercule Poirot. Sun’s voice actor, Ronnie Chieng (M3gan, Godzilla vs. Kong), sounds like he’s doing a Rich Fulcher impression the entire film, which is incredibly awkward.
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A snappy, fast-talking, superfan-turned-sleuth jumping spider named Janey (voiced by Emily Kleimo) — who has been following Sun’s entire career and wants to be his sidekick — is a character that, though it seems to be meant for comedic relief, is annoying in both appearance and execution.
Janey is also a much more competent detective than Sun will ever be. Non-consensually, she forces her way onto the plane and into Sun’s life. He rejects both her help and assistance at least half a dozen times and she still shows up. She assaults you with her unbearable voice and inability to shut up throughout the film.
The humor is also the lowest of the low comedy bearing fruit. Most of it seems to cater to feces — sometimes literally, even — with the opening scene seeing a seagull defecate on human police officers. The poo-free officer then says, “You know how spiders and bird poop are both good luck?” Later in the film, the fly pilot of the plane eats a plate with a pile of literal feces on it at dinner (with a fork). Non-poo-related humor involves an ongoing gag of Sun never being able to hear what other people are (loudly) saying under their breath.
The only aspect Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow executes somewhat efficiently is the perspective of insect life. Everything taking place amongst the insects is simultaneously occurring in the human world, which sometimes results in decent grossed out human reactions.
Red Locust’s sinister plan, revealed during the finale, is somewhat intriguing as well; even if the film seems to inject zombie-like characteristics into what seems like something completely made up for the film.
Inspector Sun and the Curse of the Black Widow is a vivacious glimpse into the minuscule world of insect sleuthing. It’s unfortunate that the lackluster animation and crudely juvenile humor aren’t nearly as lively.