Not original, just a good average action movie!
- Gemini Man review by CS
This was a lot better than I thought it would be, having read some very negative professional reviews. But the thing about critics is that they seem to live on a very different planet to the rest of us and are often guided by Pc'ness or being 'Woke', so often give positive reviews to really awful films just for the sake of being PC, but negative reviews to really good films that tackle uncomfortable truths or thorny subject matter! This film is not an original plot by any means, the subject matter has been done many times before and sometimes a lot better than here. This for me had a very 80's feel to it and I almost felt like I was watching an old Arnold Swarzenegger movie. Will plays both his older and younger self, but sadly much of the special effects are not so special, very hazy and they constantly resort to making the action so fast and choppy and dad that it's really difficult to see anything. The face on the younger counterpart does not look right and I've seen this in a lot of films where they attempt to age someone or make them younger via CG and it just looks hazy and odd. The film moves forward with quite a good pace and is actually quite a good action movie, not a blockbuster by any means. and Will simply plays himself, almost as if he's sleepwalking through the movie.
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4K 60fps version Review
- Gemini Man review by BG
Gemini Man was one of Ang Lee's recent passion projects - a continuation of his attempts to film in a higher frames-per-second format after 'Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk'.
Although 'normal' cinematic frame rates apply to the Blu-Rays of this and 'Billy Lynn's...', this 4K is the 'experimental' version, filmed at 120fps, but released on 4K Blu-Ray at 60fps.
Initially, it looks disconcerting, as if you're watching a very clear and sharp TV travel programme that just happens to include Will Smith and some extreme violence...but then after a while you disappear into the film, with the unusual visuals only reminding you of their presence again during sequences that would normally look super 'cinematic' now looking and feeling strikingly real. A motorbike chase/fight sequence gains a very impactful and visceral feel due to being so clear and 'realistic' in appearance, and a later gun battle with some heavy-duty hardware causing sparks to fly off cars looks and feels terrifying.
The plot has been hanging around Hollywood waiting to get made for so long that it no longer really feels fresh - but in a nutshell, Will Smith's ageing assassin ('Henry') decides to throw in the towel, only to find himself pursued by a younger and faster version of himself ('Junior')...
Because the plot has such a belief-stretching element, Lee wisely grounds the beginning in character elements, with Smith chatting to his handler and then engaging in accusation/flirtation with Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character 'Danny'. Winstead has a choice role in this movie, and it's immensely gratifying to see her stretch her acting legs with a character who is so confident and so hugely capable in the combat/action sequences.
Clive Owen veers between feeling a touch hammy as villain 'Clay', and then a surprisingly effective impression of trying to be a caring and affectionate father figure to cloned human 'Junior'.
The elephant in the room is Junior; how has the film handled the effects? Does Junior convince on-screen?
The good news is that most of the time, Junior is convincing, and great fun to watch. The first fight very effectively introduces him as a terrifyingly effective assailant - the Energiser Bunny version of Henry, faster, more resilient, more aggressive.
Unfortunately, whether it's due to the frame-rate or a conscious decision to try to 'amp-up' the speed of his performance, there are moments in the movie where CGI character movement seems to have been sped-up too much, and it takes you out of the action for a few seconds - mainly in the initial confrontation, and then again towards the end. Although mostly very good indeed, his face isn't always convincing, with moments of slight "uncanny-valley" oddness that caused a few furrowed brows as we watched - especially towards the end when one scene in particular seemed to vary wildly in facial quality and texture from shot to shot. However - the tech has now become so good that given enough budget and time, it must only be 2 or 3 years before they've got those final niggles nailed, as they're only a hair's breadth from it throughout most of Gemini Man.
The film is fast moving, enjoyably written and packed with flashy action sequences, and the 60fps experience is an enjoyable novelty for cinema tech fans.
I'm not sure if it will catch on properly (it's mostly been used in films that only do 'pretty well' at the box office, no mega-hits), but if you want a more traditional version there's always the Blu-Ray version instead.
Will Smith is fun, Winstead is great, and it's flashy and entertaining. If you're looking for an action movie, you can do a LOT worse than Gemini Man.
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