League of Gods (2016)
User ReviewsReview this title
See, League of Gods (LoG) is an Asian fantasy and, to our western eyes, used to the likes of Lord of the Rings and even the more recent Warcraft, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever. There is little in the way of story or character development. You are plunged straight into it and given little to establish either the setting or the players.
Once you accept that, and simply let the movie wash over you like a mad tide, you'll get more enjoyment out of it.
But when I say tide, I really mean tsunami in this instance. The movie is relentless in its madness, throwing ever more craziness at the audience and not caring if you like it or not. It's an onslaught of visual excess that rarely lets up and can be a little exhausting to watch.
That said, I did find it a refreshing change from the usual stodge that Hollywood churns out these days.
So...will you like it? Well, it depends on your personal level of acceptance of crazy. It's exactly the kind of insanity that Jack Burton, from Big Trouble in Little China, would wax lyrical about...
"Giant dancing crabs, farting babies, some guy flying around with burning wheels on his feet and people roaming the skies in stone Tetris ships. I have no idea what's going on here Jiang, but its clear you people have a problem on your hands and old Jack is here to help you sort it out by crossing the eyes and punching some teeth. So why don't you pick up your talking pot plant and we'll go deal with the snake lady and her minions and set matters to rights!"
Honestly, that imagined speech should tell you all you need to know about the movie to make a judgment as to whether you''l find it enjoyable.
I rated it a five primarily for the craziness and the gorgeous visuals. The CGI is extremely weak overall, but somehow that just adds to its charm. It isn't higher because the story is poorly presented and the characters have little more than token personalities. Acting is acceptable, in so much as there isn't much need for decent acting because it is primarily action.
All in all, however, I feel this was an opportunity missed. It clearly wanted to be a Chinese Lord of the Rings, but without the world building and steady build-up it turned out more of a fantasy Transformers.
One nice part was the music, by John Debney, which elevates the movie considerably. However, even his efforts can't make it more than a passable effort.
My best recommendation is to view this film with your mates, a large crate of beer, and to just treat it as a crazy comedy. You'll get more out of it that way.
SUMMARY: Crazy Chinese fantasy epic that espouses style and visuals over substance. Fun to watch for the craziness, but let it wash over you rather than trying to understand what is going on. Otherwise, it is middling at best.
anyway, to keep it to this movie, i personally am a very large fan of fantasy movies of any kind. There is just something special about Asian rooted fantasy movies in particular that i love. I've always been a sucker for the grand sets, colorful costumes and designs, and even the kind of images they can bring to life with CG.
If you can look past the fact that Naza, in his child form is clearly CG and unreal. If you can look past the fact that more of these creatures made with CG just don't have that realistic look, then it's much easier to enjoy the movie.
Yes the plot is a bit messy, and because there are so many elements it's hard to follow. But despite that, i do love the debt that it gives and it goes further then heroes just bashing on each other, good fighting evil, etc.
I for one, found the movie really enjoyable and i would watch it again. If you have a love for fantasy, super powers and war between good and evil, and can put yourself past a distinct use of CG and a messy plot, then it's not a waste of time to watch this.
True enough, the 110 minute movie throws scene after scene of pompous action sequences at its viewers. There is nothing particularly original about this production – it is really a messy mashup of things you have seen elsewhere.
Based on the Ming Dynasty novel Fengshen Yanyi (Investiture of the Gods) by Xu Zhonglin, the story starts of with a tyrannical king (a bored looking Tony Leung, who had seen better days in movies like the recent Cold War 2), who is also bewitched by a beautiful empress (Fan Bingbing, who is the best part about this movie), who is in fact an ancient fox demon (watch out for her giant tentacles!). Just as the evil duo are about to kill off a good guy who is holding the secrets to destroy the ultimate baddie known as the Black Dragon, good guys in the form of a righteous young man (an earnest Jacky Heung who can't save the movie) and a powerful sorcerer (Jet Li, who can definitely do much better than this).
Elsewhere, there is a villainous general who rides on a CG black panther (Louis Koo, who probably is happy from earning some easy bucks), a rebellious warrior who flies around on CG fire wheels (Wen Zhang, who took over the role from Cecilia Chung after she was fired for poor behaviour) and a righteous warrior who yields CG weapons (an underused Huang Xiaoming). Oh, there is also the love interest character (Angelababy, looking as pretty as ever with her big dreamy eyes) who looks really happy when she sees CG blue butterflies. The good guys are supposed to hunt down a mighty sword which is supposed to save the world (but of course).
To be honest, the story does have quite a bit of potential to capitalise the characters' campy abilities and the demons' out of this world powers to produce an entertaining piece of work. Unfortunately, when you have HK$300 million to blow on a movie, budget is spent on trying to impress the masses with CG scenes (this columnist might have been more impressed if there were animatronics on display). Money was probably also spent on "foreign talents" like composer John Debney (The Jungle Book), animation director Randall William Cook (The Lord of the Rings), sound designer Brent Burge (The Hobbit) and editor Wayne Philip Wahrman (I Am Legend).
The result? A mess that can hardly be salvaged. We just need to mention one scene for you to know what to expect – A CG Nezha invades an underwater palace and destroys CG sea monsters with CG fart. Yup, you read it right. We rest our case here - till the sequel comes along (yup, there will probably be one).
All I know is that I found this an enjoyable fairy tale. I did not compare it to any other movie. The CGI was pretty good, and the story kept moving.
It was clearly meant to be funny in places, and the kid with the power evacuation and explosive farts was not my kind of humor, but then I do not enjoy most modern toilet humor in Western movies either.
The action scenes were well done and exciting, and I always enjoy watching people with powers flying around, fighting, and beating the bad guys. The story was not over by the end of the movie, and there has to be a sequel.
The big bad only arrives at the end of the movie, so we need to see the heroes regroup and take him out. They need to save their world. That was another surprise to me, when early on it became clear that this story did not take place on Earth. Three suns??!!! Flying air ships! Yes the movie looks crazy, but it was crazy fun.
I just hope Angelababy's character Blue Butterfly comes back somehow.
"It's all fun and games until a baby goes cgi".
This movie felt like an Asian Lord of the Rings on steroids, massive steroids, almost to the point where they should be illegal steroids. Where Lord of the Rings was a bit too slow for my taste, this story moved way too fast.
Characters were dished out left and right so fast and with so little explanation that you're left wondering where they came from and what their reason really is for being there at all. Imagine the Avengers without the previous movies of each hero to help you learn about and understand them. In fact I'd love to see solo movies for some of the characters here like Jiang, Ne Zha, Erlang Shen...
There's so much content that they have to work with here, but it was all thrust into one large movie that was frankly just too much, especially for us Westerners that don't have much knowledge of the backgrounds to these stories.
Anyway, don't expect a deep story with deep characters. Just take it for what it is - a gorgeous, epic fantasy action adventure - and you'll enjoy it.
This film offers near constant CGI in a way that would make George Lucas proud. It has more CGI than in STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE which is saying something. Every scene features CGI in some regard: CGI monsters, CGI snakes, CGI magical blasts, CGI flying, CGI backgrounds, even CGI characters. The direction is a dizzying blend of quick cuts and endless CGI transitions, no surprise given that the director is an effects man best known for his assistant direction on Jackie's WHO AM I?. As for the actors, they don't even get a look in. I'm a martial arts fan, but the wirework-assisted action is in very short supply.
Tony Leung is an evil king in thrall to an evil sorceress played by Fan Bingbing. There are so many CGI snakes and effects in their scenes that it's difficult to make them out. A bloated and weary Jet Li, suffering from real-life health problems, offers little more than an extended cameo in his role of a crusading priest (basically the same as his one in EMPEROR AND THE WHITE SNAKE). Louis Koo shows up as a bad guy riding a giant panther while Angelababy simpers and looks vacant (no difficulty for her).
The film's bald-headed hero, played by Jacky Heung, has a single expression on his wooden face throughout. The CGI action scenes are endless and wearisome after about five minutes. The plot seems to be a blend of LORD OF THE RINGS, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, and STAR WARS with no sense or wit about it. The hero is accompanied by a creepy CGI baby and an annoying CGI plant in some scenes. A giant CGI centipede attacks at one point. Later, Louis Koo turns into a fantasy version of the Hulk. It's incredibly poor, laughably so in fact, and a complete waste of time, effort, and money.
I hated that they dubbed Tony Leung speaking Mandarin with a Cantonese accent – come on, if you are going to dub, at least let the character speak normally. I love Huang Xiaomin but his costume made him look like a golden cob of corn (or a golden walking condom)– and not the mortal enemy of fox demoness Daji (Fan Bingbing)! And what was it with Ao Guang's (Emperor of the East Ocean) underwater palace being destroyed by a farting Nezha?!
I was looking forward to some good old-fashion ku-fung fighting but all we got was some poorly executed CGI. In this day and age, the quality of the CGI was quite unforgivable. Even the Scorpio King was loads better.
Waste of acting talent and budget!
As for any saving grace, I'd give the movie some props for having a very decent audio mastering prowess. The LFE was taut, it wasn't overbearing and it has a sense of weight whenever the scene asks for it. There's also some good usage of surround effects, voices pan with very nice and wide separation that makes it a little eerie to listen to at times.
China's visual department has definitely came a long way. They're still a few steps behind Hollywood as a whole, but they're definitely closer than ever. Good effort by the VFX team, unfortunately the decision in making the whole movie look like the Avengers was a big turn off.
This is a mediocre movie at best and most of the time, it's just simply bad. It deserves a 3 simply because of its audio presentation and a nod to the VFX team. Other than that, this movie belongs in the litter box of garbage movies.
Not the worst CGI you have seen, not the best either. And it seems to have been done with American money (which may be one reason why we get the dubbed version, still ...). The story is thin, but with all the effects and fights going on, you can't really expect there to be more.