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Author Topic: GEMINI MAN - NON-SPOILER REVIEW  (Read 65 times)
Darth Knox
Knight Commander
OVER 9000!!
*********

Force Alignment: -1814
Posts: 11486


(Dark points only) Do not hesitate. Show no mercy


« on: October 11, 2019, 03:44:13 PM »

PLEASE NOTE - THE FOLLOWING IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW OF THE MOVIE. I WILL NOT REVEAL ANY MAJOR PLOT POINTS FROM THE MOVIE.

Who doesnít like Will Smith? From his early days as teen rapper and star of a still beloved tv show to box office movie star. His easy going charm and likeable goofy charisma just makes people smile. For a few years he was known as ďMr 4th JulyĒ as films he starred in dominated the box office during that American holiday. He has diversified his roles, showing impressive Oscar worthy performances in movies like Ali and The Pursuit of Happiness. However, with the rise in popularity of comic book movies, the landscape of Hollywood has changed. For anyone with any knowledge of film history, that should come as no surprise as Hollywood is an ever changing entity, constantly evolving and mutating, trying out new things, rehashing old troupes and giving a facelift to established genres.

The days of putting an A-list actor in your movie was all that was required for a box office smash are long gone. Actors donít sell tickets anymore (at least not in the ways they did in the 80s, 90s and 00s). Nowadays it is recognisable intellectual properties and directors that are the draw. For some established stars, they are still trying to regain their footing as the rug was swiftly pulled out from underneath them. Some moved with the times and realise that starring in a comic book movie can be a good career move (as long as the movie is good). Some, are stubbornly waiting for the comic book movie bubble to burst so ďnormalĒ service can resume.

Big Willie is somewhere in the middle. He is one of a handful of actors that can still get audiences interested in a project simply by starring in it. Unfortunately, his most recent efforts havenít exactly lit up the box office; MiB 3, After Earth, Suicide Squad, Collateral Beauty, Bright. These are all movies that could have worked, however for one reason or another were huge disappointments. For some actors, having a poor run like that would put a huge dent in their career. But not the Fresh Prince. Because he is so likeable, people are willing to give him time, a luxury afforded very few actors. Despite lots of early criticism and naysaying, he gave an enjoyable and fresh (see what I did there) portrayal of the genie is Disney live action Aladdin and will soon reprise his signature role of Mike Lowrey in the long overdue Bad Boys 3.

But before all that comes an interesting premise of a film; what would you do if you were an ageing assassin being hunted by a younger version of yourself? We have seen similar takes on this in Looper with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and more recently (kind of) in Logan.

is the premise enough to be a hit at the box office? Will the much lauded motion capture technology over-shadow the movie? Will audiences turn out in large numbers to support a non-comic book movie? And will this movie be a much needed hit for Willard Carroll Smith, Jr?

THE STORY
Ageing assassin Henry decides to call it a day on his career, but first he must face his toughest challenge yet Ė his younger, fitter clone. 

OVERALL OPINION
When you watch a lot of movies, there are certain troupes that you notice crop up in specific genres. The trick for a good director or writer is how to avoid these troupes or try and use them in new and unexpected ways. On the surface Gemini Man falls into the ďclandestine operative being hunted by his own governmentĒ troupe that was executed to perfection in the Bourne trilogy (we donít count the spin-off or recent fourth entry). However, where the Bourne movies gave us lots of suspense, tension, character development, intrigue and amazing action set-pieces, Iím sorry to say that Gemini Man falls flat in almost every area. The movie feels as though it was the first draft of an idea, but hadnít been developed or polished before reaching the filming stage. It starts off well enough, but once Will Smithís clone turns up it becomes less a Bourne style movie and more akin to The 6th Day (that so-so Arnie movie in 2000 about clones).

Going into this movie itís hard to explain my where my expectation and anticipation levels were. As cool as the idea of an aged assassin being hunted by his younger clone was, I was blown away by the trailers. There was something gnawing at me that led me believe that this movie might not be any good. But I canít say why. Now, having seen it, I view it as a huge missed opportunity to give us another great entry into the espionage/shady government hitman genre.

This is not the fault of the actors though. Everyone involved are giving solid performances, but some of the dialogue is a little lacking. Which leads us to the action set-pieces. This movie was directed by Ang Lee. In 2000, he directed the masterpiece that is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That movie wowed Western audiences with itís creative use of wire work and itís flawless and inventive fight choreography. Ang Lee obviously knows how to shoot memorable action. But, in this movie, not only is the green screen quite noticeable in some shots, but some set-pieces were shot so dark you literally couldnít see what was happening. Again, I use have to bring up the Bourne trilogy again. In The Bourne Ultimatum there is an excellent motorcycle chase that takes place in Tangiers. It is energetic and frantic and real, the kind of action set-piece that has you on the edge of your seat. Part of the reason for this is it was shot practical and on location. There is a motorcycle chase in this movie that has so much noticeable green screen you would think youíre watching a mid-budget movie from the mid 2000s.

Much has been made of the CGI in this movie to recreate Fresh Prince era Will Smith as the young clone out to kill his older self. There have been articles that have made it very clear that this is not de-ageing techniques at work here, it is CGI. And boy does it show. In some sequences I thought I was watching the unrealistic CGI from Blade 2 (when Blade fights the two vampires who infiltrate his base). You could get way with something like that in 2002, but when we have de-aged Michael Douglas in Antman and photorealistic Thanos and Hulk, there really should be no excuse for such subpar CGI in 2019.

All-in-all, if you are expecting an intriguing clone vs clone Bourne-style espionage movie, then this is definitely not the movie for you.

THE PERFORMANCES
Will Smith - Henry Brogan
To generations of people he may always be the Fresh Prince, but when he wants to, Will can really put in a strong and nuanced acting performance. He is definitely trying in this movie and does the best with what he has to work with. But, for all his effort, he really deserved a stronger script. Enjoyable to watch as always, but because of the uncanny valley on his younger self, itís hard to focus on the performance.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Danny Zakarweski
As with Will Smith, Mary is an infinitely likeable actress. She was cool as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim and gave a fantastic down-to-earth performance in 10 Cloverfield Lance. She provides a perfect companion to Willís character and more than holds her own on screen. But, the lack of character development in the script is a shame.

Clive Owen - Clayton Varris
He was once considered to be the next James Bond especially after his performance in the movie Croupier. Instead, he preferred to divide his time between character roles in carefully selected movies and theatre work. Here, he is on full-on villain mode (yes, another British actor playing the villain! I thought we were past this stage Hollywood?). He does as good a job as everyone else in the film, but the character is a little one-note.

Benedict Wong - Baron
One of the most reliable character actors out there, many people may now only know his name thanks to playing Wong in Dr Strange. However, everyone recognises his face and are aware of the quality he can bring to any role he is in. Not masses of screen time, but he does a good job.

OTHER STUFF
The Action
If there is one thing that legendary actor Ang Lee knows how to do is action (just look at the fabulous fight choreography showcased in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Unfortunately I found some of the action laughable in some instances and just full-on uninspiring in other places.

The CGI
There has been a lot of coverage about the use of motion capture in this movie as Will Smith plays both his 50yr old self and his much younger self. Advances in CGI have reached the point where we have pretty much almost nailed de-ageing actors (look at itís use in the MCU). If done badly, it will be very noticeable and distracting (the uncanny valley). When done well, itís just part of the story and doesnít take you out of the film. Here, it is extremely noticeable. Itís not Steppenwolf in Justice League levels of bad or anything. In some instances its actually quite good and you would swear youíre looking at a real person. But then he starts talking/emoting and the realism drops away in a big way.

The Cinematography
Pretty standard and uninspiring. Nothing creative on display.

The Pacing
It sagged a little towards the end of the second act and the story threads were tied up messily part way the third act before shoe-horning in another (unnecessary) element.

The Score/Soundtrack
Iím not a score/soundtrack guy normally. A score has to be truly exceptional for me to notice. I felt earlier on they were trying to use the score to generate some emotion to the scene, but it failed. After that, it just seemed to run out of steam and fade into the background to be quite ineffectual.

Other stuff
Ang Lee has reportedly filmed this at 120 frames per second. Without getting too technical, since the creation of film, virtually every movie has been filmed in 24 frames per second. Thatís what gives film itís unique look and helps it look different from live tv for instance. 120 frames per second will basically make the film look like the viewer is watching everything live. While the version I saw was in 24 frames per second, there are some showings in America that are showing it in the 120 frames that Lee shot. Reports are that this has made the CGI look even more noticeably bad (due to the higher frame rate needing more light than traditional film). if you are going to see this movie, I would suggest checking to see what frame rate is being shown.

FINAL VERDICT
A forgettable movie with a poorly executed premise that could have been so good. Itís not awful, but will definitely be another blemish on Willís record.

Run time - 1h 57m
Rotten Tomatoes critics score (at time of writing) - 29%
My Score: 6/10    

MY MOVIE RATING SYSTEM
10- Citizen F*%king Kane (A+)
 9-  Bloody Great (A)
 8-  Really rather good (A-)
 7-  Pretty decent (B+)
 6-  Definitely above average (B)
 5- Middle of the road average (C)
 4- Mediocre (D)
 3- Meh (E)
 2- Crap (F)
 1- Why the hell did I waste my time and money on this abomination (Unrated)

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