New Gods: Nezha Reborn Review

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Chinese animation, or donghua, has increased in recent years, providing films with stunning animation that can rival even Disney’s multi-million dollar budgets, while still delivering unique stories that we normally don’t get from. ‘Hollywood. After Ne Zha became the highest-grossing unrealized animated film in the United States, a new tale of trickster child-god legend Nezha is coming thanks to Netflix. New Gods: Nezha Reborn may have a familiar story, but she wraps it in an exciting dieselpunk world and realizes it with exquisite animation.The latest film from Light Chaser Animation and director Zhao Ji – who also directed the romance epic White Snake – is located in a mythical city named Donghai, where gods walk among humans of different cultures, but water has become a commodity hotter than gold. The film opens with a fast and furious bike race through an industrial factory where competitors are given huge foundry flasks filled with molten metal.

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The winner of this dangerous race is Li Yunxiang (Yang Tianxiang, or Stephen Fu in the English dub), a daredevil delivery boy who, at night, is a renegade hero who would break into a factory to get free water. for the people. Yunxiang is marked for death by Ao Bing (Ling Zhenhe, or Alex Le in the dub), the third son of the boss of the dragon clan, after discovering that Yunxiang is the last reincarnation of the child-god Nezha, nemesis. of the Dragon Clan The first half of New Gods: Nezha Reborn plays out almost like a superhero origin story, with Yunxiang learning to tap into his powers with the help of an eccentric mentor, and learning that with great power must also come with great responsibility, as wave after wave of overpowered assassins is sent to kill loved ones. Story-wise, that’s pretty standard, with the movie just using the concept of reincarnation rather than a spider bite or Kryptonian blood cells. (There’s also a bit of a weirdo where the movie opens with Yunxiang smashing the Fourth Wall for no reason and speaking directly to the audience about identity and fate, the movie’s two big themes.)

What really sets Nezha Reborn apart is its fascinating setting. Donghai City is a visually stunning and inventive place, with a unique aesthetic that blends 1930s Shanghai art deco architecture with 1950s American flair (all those classic cars and motorcycles). There’s also a bit of dieselpunk thrown in for good measure: Huge sculptures and homages to deities are constructed from engines and other car parts, and our hero leans on armor made of parts from it. car to protect his still human skin. of his new fire god powers. It gives the movie an aesthetic that we don’t really see in animated movies of this scale. This slick-looking film also features an evil lightning dragon who transforms into a Tywin Lannister-like crime boss – who also has a mechanical shark in his underwater lair, protected by magical jellyfish that can also transform into lamps!

The story isn’t always as well executed as the visuals, however. The concept of deities ending a war with humanity by making a deal that would have them act as rulers of a city is intriguing, but the film barely goes beyond this surface-level explanation and don’t spend as much time in the real city as they should. Granted, they’re likely to keep it for sequels, but it’s still a bit of a shame not to see more of this cool place.

If you are unfamiliar with Nezha’s story, or if you haven’t seen the similar but unrelated movie to Ne Zha, then you might be a bit lost at first. Nezha Reborn primarily assumes that you are familiar with the story of the Child God, as most of the exhibit is simply devoted to explaining how this interpretation is different, rather than what the myth itself is. .

Still, the striking animation is likely to attract more attention than the story. The many fight scenes are beautifully executed; Sometimes it’s hard to tell if they weren’t just rotoscoped. The hair and fabric textures, along with the background animation and water effects, look as beautiful as any Disney or Pixar movie. Once Yunxiang fully unlocks his powers and fights against his immortal dragon foe, the film explodes into a colorful force of nature, with punches and sword swings flashing before your eyes at blazing speed. While the choreography of the fight is well done, it can get too frantic at times, to the point that it can be difficult to tell exactly what’s going on.

Likewise, the pace of the film is so fast that it shows just how underdeveloped the story is. Characters enter and exit in less time than a Quibi. Complex and seemingly important knowledge is introduced and then dropped, and pretty much anyone who isn’t a reincarnated Nezha is a one-dimensional character. Maybe some of that will be fixed in a sequel, as Nezha Reborn ends with not one, not two, but three post-credits scenes teasing everything from a sequel to a sequel to White Snake the movie. animation totally independent from the same studio.

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Where the Nezha 2019 was a fun DreamWorks-inspired animated comedy with excellent animation and Studio Light Chaser Animation’s White Snake was a beautiful romance, Nezha Reborn is the studio’s rebellious teen action flick that’s a bit empty in the face. head, but one that exudes aesthetics and freshness, and for some viewers, that may prove to be enough.

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