Loving 《封神傳奇》 League of Gods

In the years I have been interviewing filmmakers and talking about films, I’ve tried my best to give fair assessments of the films I’ve watched. So I watched League of Gods 《封神傳奇》 on its global premiere in Calgary on July 29th and I honestly LOVE the film. Just LOVE it!

First of all, I find the io9 Gizmodo interview with Koan Hui (director) and John Dietz (VFX Supervisor, VFX Producer, Associate Producer) in “How a 16th-Century Chinese Legend Transformed Into the Epic Fantasy Movie League of Gods” very insightful. And the movie official Facebook page shared this good, frank and fair Chinese review of the film (local copy here). Great read as well.

Before I give my pictorial review (my brief notes along with screen captures from the trailer) and my other thoughts, here is a trailer of the movie.

The following are some screen captures from the trailer along with a bit of my commentaries. You can click on the image to zoom in.

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 01 - Collapsing Tower

Beautiful & smooth rendering of the buildings.

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 02 - 3D model of city

Again, nicely done!

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 03 - Flying boat

Spoiler Alert: These boats fly. Non traditional for sure but I love them.

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 04 - Female lead look

I just love all aspect of the styling of the female lead. Nicely done!

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 05 - Flight scene of male lead

The 3D actions are fast paced and great to watch at times. But at some scenes (and this one for example) did cause my eyes to zone out! I thought it could pace out the 3D actions a little bit more and not pack so much in.

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 06 - The little kids - coloured white

I won’t spoil your fun but I love these kids in white!

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 07 - The Black Puma

Love this photo realistic black puma. State-of-the-art.

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 08 - The Wings

Wings! The wings are just beautiful!

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 09 - Actors in Boat

The storyline of “love” between the young couple is thin and boringly predictable but I am not too hung up on it as the rest of the film is epic!

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 10 - The CGI baby

I didn’t know what to expect from this CG 3D baby but I LOVE it. I love even its storyline.

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 11 - The Road Runner references

No one seems to have mentioned this but I call this paying homage to Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote! :) Love the mad fun!

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 12 - The sea battle

Fantastic battle. Although I wish I can get a bit more of the “under sea” feeling/visual of the battle as it is supposed to be fought under water. After a while, it just felt like a land battle to me. I don’t know how to fix it but I do know it could be made better.

LEAGUE OF GODS US Trailer (2016) Fantasy Movie - Pix 13 - Big Crab

Holly beeping big crab! Love it!


Harsh reviews

There have been a few harsh reviews of League of Gods which I disagree. It is so much easier to attack instead of create. In 1997, the 3+ hours long Titanic by James Cameron got the following harsh reviews and let me quote from the Rotten Tomatoes review excerpts:

 The regretful verdict here: dead in the water.” – Time Magazine; Titanic is a good, often stunning movie caught in a three-and-a-half hour drift.” – Washington Post; ‘Titanic’ Sinks Again (Spectacularly)  …  What really brings on the tears is Cameron’s insistence that writing this kind of movie is within his abilities.” – LA Times.

My advice to director Koan is to ignore the harsh reviews just like James must have ignored his. At the end of the day, good and earnest filmmakers, just try their best to make the best films they can with the tools, skills, resources, … they had at the time. The good and earnest filmmakers know they can do better next time. And I know Koan will try to make an even better film next time.

Loving 《封神傳奇》 League of Gods

While watching League of Gods on screen, I kept unfairly comparing (because my benchmark is impossibly high) the images I saw on screen with some of those I’ve seen from the works of Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿) and James, et al. The re-imagining, reinterpretation, references, reuses, etc. I understand and appreciate no artists stand alone so, for me, I was very much able to enjoy all the imageries and fun of League of Gods without being hyper critical. We definitely got our 3D movie ticket prices worth of entertainment!

Let me end this brief note/review with a James Cameron quote from my list,

Don’t put limitations on yourself. Other people will do that for you. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t bet against yourself. And take risk.

NASA has this phrase that they like, “Failure is not an option.” But failure has to be an option.

In art and exploration, failure has to be an option. Because it is a leap of faith. And no important endeavour that required innovation was done without risk. You have to be willing to take those risks. […]

in whatever you are doing, failure is an option. But fear is not.” – James Cameron (1954 – ) at this 2010 TED talk[time code 16:11]

I have no doubt Koan and his team have given their best to make League of Gods and put all of them up on screen for us to see. And I love the result. I hope you will enjoy the film as much as I did.

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