This two-and-a-half-hour journey brings you to the mythical, ancient era of the far far East land. Every character has a clear, yet persuasive story-line. Every scene is thoughtfully and beautifully pictured. But still, something is missing.
A long long time ago, when the god Nyuwa was creating human beings, she foresaw a catastrophe for human beings. She wisely left Fengshenbang, an ever-powerful treasure that meant to save the world.
The film, however, doesn’t start from here. It starts from a prologue of a prologue of a prologue. You will first learn how the Shang Dynasty was formed and ruled through the territory map carved on a cast bronze Ding. It reminds me of The Fellowship of the Ring a lot, where the origin of the ring and the territory of the middle land softly unfold on a long roll.
Then the time jumps to 500 years later, a young man, Jifa, witnesses the sacrifice of one of his fellow soldiers to persuade his ‘traitor’ father to surrender to General Yinshou, who will soon become the next King of the Shang Dynasty. The fight accidentally awakens the monster, White Fox. The monster then attaches herself to the dead body of Su Daji, the beautiful daughter of the ‘traitor’, and replaces her.
Yes. You wouldn’t know anything about this ever-powerful Fengshenbang in the first chapter of this film. You will meet with it almost halfway when the very Gandalf-like Immortal Jiang Ziya has finally been sent from heaven down to the earth with two Legolas-like or Gimli-like immortals Yangjian and Nezha. Their mission is, no doubt, to give the Fengshenbang to the all-agreed king of the land to save the world.
The fundamental discussion of the film develops from here. Who should be the all-agreed king, and what makes him all-agreed? Truthfully, this is one of the most fundamental debates rooted in traditional Chinese socio-political thoughts, nourishing many stories. So, in theory, there is a greater chance to make the film profound, legendary and yet distinctive from the films made by other countries. Considering the high-level world-class production team, the magnificent, imaginative original story and the impressive Chinese aesthetics layered on the film, it really isn’t just an unrealistic daydream.
Unfortunately, in Creation of the Gods I, this debate is distracted by the attempt to adapt the very long original fiction as detailed as possible. Splitting out the storyline belonging to each protagonist seems to construct a sophisticated lesson about how the story has pushed forward, but inversely, fogged up the character-led, multi-line structure of the film, and then over-simplified the characters and each storyline. A stimulating, fascinating, exquisite story soon became, although not bad, unexceptional.
Instead of making itself a milestone compatible with Lord of the Ring, Creation of the Gods I turned itself into a typical Hollywood blockbuster with a predictable story that starts with an arduous mission and then links tones of CGI and VFX with intense or humorous plots. Nonetheless, it did manage to plant a strong, imaginative story seed for the following films. I still looking forward to watching the second and the third.
Creation of the Gods I is now screening in UK and Ireland cinemas, distributed by Trinity CineAsia.