Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms


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Movie: :2.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :2stars:
Final Score: :3stars:




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Movie

There’s always a delicate balance when creating a trilogy before the first film of a series is even finished. Either it goes AMAZINGLY well (ala The Lord of the Rings) or it’s bloated and convoluted with too many Marvel Studios style cliffhanger endings that make the first film or so feel like an introductory trilogy rather than a stand alone feature film. Such is the case for China’s mega blockbuster trilogy based upon a 16th century tome. Some bits are really good, the fights are fantastic, but it feels like there is an enormous amount of bloat and over reliance on a million characters that may or may not play a major role in upcoming films in the series.

As is the case with many fantasy period piece Chinese films, we start the film with a gigantic battle where lord Zhou (Kris Phillips) of the Shang Dynasty is waging war upon a traitorous underling. During the battle a fox demon is freed from a nearby tomb, inhabiting the body of the traitor’s daughter, who in turn decides to manipulate the power hungry lord into killing his father the Emperor, and trying to take over the world with the divine scroll known as Fenghen Bang (which can trap the souls of the dead). However, even his loyal bodyguards are called upon to question the motivations of their lord, and treachery runs rampant among the ranks. Demons controlling kings, children of the local lords forced into military servitude in order to keep a handle on said lords, divine immortals coming to help the humans, and a hint at new gods being created after a curse like no other is spilled upon the land.

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If this sounds slightly confusing and bloated, well, then you’d be correct. Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms is enormous, clocking in at nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes and even with that runtime still feels over stuffed and under explained. In typical Asian film making fashion, the flick is short on info dumping, giving us just enough mythological history to get the jist of what’s going on, but relying a lot on viewers to have an understanding of Chinese Mythology to fill in the gaps. Naturally this creates some moments where you’re wondering what is going on, or what do certain historical references have to do with the plot. Simultaneously the audience is left with a mega cliff hanger, where the evil despotic King Zhou is defeated, only for him to come back to life at the end while we’re left with the distinct feeling that the entire film was nothing more than setting the ground work for FUTURE films.

At the same time, there’s still some solid fun to be had in the mega budgeted Chinese blockbuster. The entire film is saturated in period piece trappings, and unlike many Asian films, the budget shows big time on the screen, with amazing costumes, solid CGI and some battle sequences that are fantastic. I went through a full circle of feelings throughout the film, ranging from being bored, to having a really good time, to scratching my head in confusion. Only to go back to being bored, excited and confused in a cyclical loop. There’s fun to be had in the mega blockbuster, and it promises so much more, but from what I’ve seen of the film series so far, it would need a killer 2nd and 3rd film to win me back to giving a solid thumbs up on the franchise.




Rating:

Not Rated by the MPAA




Video: :4.5stars:
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The Blu-ray is given a nearly perfect 1.85:1 framed AVC encode from Well Go USA, and I have very little to complain about with it. According to IMDB the film was shot using RED cameras of some sort at 8K and then given a 2K digital intermediate for the home video release (which is kind of weird for them to not give it a native 4K master for future 4K releases considering the high resolution camera capture). However, outside of some cartoonish CGI (such as the dragon at the beginning on the Immortal’s mountain, or the CGI demons at the end) the film looks superb on Blu-ray. Colors range from deep ambers in candle lit rooms, outdoor shots that are brilliantly clear and neutral, and other “night time” shots that are bathed in that deep blue/gray that is so prevalent in Asian film making. Black levels are deep and inky, and I actually didn’t notice the usual Well Go USA banding that is typical of their releases. Fine details are superb, and outside of the CGI standing out a good bit, the entire film looks incredible.









Audio: :5stars:
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Presented in both English and Mandarin lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1, Creation of the Gods I is absolutely stellar audio wise. Personally I found the English dub to be very sub standard this go around (for the dubbing, not the rest of the audio mix on the English track) and have to give a major lean towards the Mandarin track. Both tracks offer superb surround sound presentations, complete with massive sweeping battles that litter the sound stage with discrete surround usage, as well as killer bass. The opening battle shook my entire room as the avalanche came down, and the resurrection of the sorcerer/demon’s rock monster had my jaw on the floor. Dialog is crisp and perfectly intelligible, and I could find no room for improvement from a practical standpoint. Stellar demo material all the way around.












Extras: :2stars:
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• Well Go USA Previews
• Theatrical Trailers
• Behind the Scenes













Final Score: :3stars:

Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms does a TON of ground work laying and background setting for the legendary mythological story, but it falls short in execution (in my humble opinion). There’s good fun to be had from the lavish looking film, but it’s overly complex, not enough story is set up despite the huge run time, and the various sub plots that it attempts to set up seem to vanish into the wind for another time, leaving me feeling a bit frustrated. The Well Go USA Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and it has at least a FEW extras more than normal, so fans will definitely enjoy picking up the Blu-ray. However to everyone else, I would definitely rent it first.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Huang Bo, Kris Phillips, Xuejian Li, Yu Xia, Quan Yuan, Chen Muchi
Directed by: Wuershan
Written by: Jianan Ran, Ping Ran, Cao Sheng
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1, English, Mandarin DD 2.0
Subtitles: English, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional)
Studio: Well Go USA
Rated: NR
Runtime: 148 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 28th, 2024
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Recommendation: Rental

 
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