Will Smith. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
By Richard Heaton
Ang Lee had a vision. He wanted Gemini Man to be a revolutionary work of art, so he did something that has not really been done before. He filmed Gemini Man in 120 Frames Per Second and 4K.
That’s so advanced that no theater in the world even agreed to show it in this form. Only 14 theaters in all of North America even agreed to show it in 120 FPS, but downgraded the film to 2K.
One of those theaters was located in New York, AMC Lincoln Square 13. The film is so advanced that instead of a simple title like Gemini Man 3D or Gemini Man IMAX, this version is labeled as Gemini Man 3D+ in HFR with Dolby Cinema
So what’s the big deal about 120 FPS? For starters, FPS is literally how many shots are taken per second, so the more shots that there are, the smoother the film will look.
120 FPS is a revolutionary step in the advancement of film technology. If you were to ask just one year ago what would a 120 FPS film look like, you would not even get an answer. Someone might even laugh at you.
120 FPS is not just incredibly high, it is miles ahead of the competition. Lee skipped over 60 FPS and even 48 FPS to make this. 60 FPS is just as rare, so rare that I am willing to bet that no American has ever seen a film that utilized 60 FPS.
No American-made film outside of Lee’s work has ever been shown at 60 FPS. Only three films in American history have even been shown at 48 FPS, and many viewers could not even handle it.
Those three films were Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, they were the first films to be shown in America at 48 FPS, up until then no film was ever shown at higher than 24.
After those films were released, all other films reverted back to being shown at 24 FPS. Before Gemini Man was released, every single film of 2019 was shown at 24 FPS, including big blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame and Alita: Battle Angel.
What does that mean? Gemini Man was five times as smooth and five times as clear as any blockbuster released in the last five years.
There are a number of reasons as to why this is both good and bad. First of all, those who watched The Hobbit films in 48 FPS had some negative things to say about it.
Some attacked the film saying parts looked fake and i am not talking about CGI gone wrong. Simple movement like people running looked so smooth that people could not believe it was real.
Other criticism was simply because it was too new of a technology and that it just felt weird and too different.
On the flip side, the film being so smooth and clear allowed for the film to be experiences on a whole new level. The level of smoothness made action scenes way more intense and while some people felt it looked fake, others believed it felt like they were right in the middle, watching the action in person.
As for Gemini Man, the difference is noticeable right from the start. The film opens with a shot of a train leaving a station and it’s so smooth that it looks less like the train is moving and more like it’s simply being carried.
After watching the film for the first time, I do not really have an opinion of whether the advancement was good or bad, but I definitely had a strong opinion on how different it was.
Many scenes felt like the events were taking place and I was just standing in the background watching it from a safe distance. It did not feel like watching a film in the theater. The line between watching a recorded video and thinking you are actually there was definitely crossed.
Gemini Man felt very first-person too, as if somehow we were looking through the eyes of the characters, and that combination of film technique and 120 FPS gave the weird feeling as if we were watching a GoPro vlog but in super HD.
In some parts, dialogue between two characters felt less like a film line and more like being at an in-person interview. The backdrops really helped with that, because you see so much wide-open space and you see these characters talking, and it feels like you are part of an actual conversation.
Lastly, like I mentioned with the train scene, there are lots of scenes involving vehicles that look surreal. There are shots of planes, trains, and cars that honestly look too realistic to be real. Then there are shots of these vehicles when they are entering or exiting the screen and they are so smooth that they can actually freak your brain out.
You know those action films where you see things exploding or glass shattering or slow motion destruction? 99 percent of the time it is all CGI to make it look as good as possible. But here there is a fine line to the point where you cannot even tell.
As for the film itself, it was pretty good. Will Smith playing a dual role is definitely the films highlight, but there was a couple really good scenes as well such as the motorcycle chase and a sick catacomb fight.
However, I cannot tell if I liked the scene for what it was or if it was actually the technology making the scene pop out that made me like it.
For me, a lot of the dialogue seemed to drag, and in some parts, I feel like there might have even been too much dialogue. The beginning of the film was just one really long exposition of who Smith’s character is, what his background is, why he’s retiring, and what is going on in the world around him.
The beginning of the film tells us what we are supposed to know but does not show us anything. It is all in dialogue. Then halfway through the film, the exposition starts from the beginning, but this time it’s him telling everything to his younger self.
Other than that, the film was pretty fun and both Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong really tried to steal the show from Smith.
The music was pretty good as well. The score was composed by Lorne Balfe, who is well-known when it comes to action and drama scores.
As for the film itself, I would say it deserves an eight out of 10 but the technology aspect and the experience as a whole is as close to perfect as it can get.