Ang Lee is a great director. He’s won two richly-deserved Best Director Oscars for “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi,” and he’s a pretty compelling reason to give just about any movie a chance. But his latest effort, the Will Smith action movie, “Gemini Man” is a total mess.
The story itself is basically nothing. It’s just a vehicle to use cool filmmaking technology and make a big action movie. Which, fine. The problem is that the technology just isn’t there yet.
“Gemini Man” employs a high frame-rate, 3D technology and digital de-aging. Most people are already familiar with 3D technology from movies like “Avatar” and “Gravity” – both of which employ 3D more compellingly.
The other two technologies may be a little bit of a mystery.
“Gemini Man” is shot at a high frame rate, meaning that instead of seeing 24 frames per second, audiences seeing “Gemini Man” at its intended frame rate are shown 120 frames per second. In theory, this should provide more detail and a more immersive experience. In practice, it makes for a jarring experience, and gives everything a tinge of unreality. It looks like a video game cut scene more than a movie, and everything is motion smoothed to the point that the whole movie just kind of glides right by.
Digital de-aging, meanwhile, is going through something of a renaissance. The process of using technology to make actors appear younger will also be employed in Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” But in “Gemini Man” at least, it doesn’t quite work. Everything about young Will Smith’s movements in the film feels “off,” his head doesn’t quite turn correctly, his facial expressions look unnatural.
“Gemini Man” was supposed to serve as a springboard into the future of filmmaking. Lee and his fellow filmmakers pegged the entire enterprise on state-of the art technology… and that technology failed them. Couple that with the movie’s boring plot and the fact that its best action sequences were all shown in the trailer, and you get a movie worth skipping.