Friday, September 13, 2019

Review: Ne Zha

Release date: July 26, 2019
Running time: 110 minutes
 Yanting Lü, Joseph, Mo Han

Ne Zha tells the story of a young boy blessed with unique abilities that cause him to be incredibly powerful but also feared by the village where he grew up.  The boy is mischievious, as you would expect of a young child, and is constantly disobeying his parents and getting into trouble.  However, the boy must grow up quickly when a force threatens him and everyone in his village.

Ne Zha is a Chinese animated feature that stradles the line between a kids movie and a more serious animated film.  The animation is beautfiul at times, but also feels like it can't decide on a genre.  Most of the movie has detailed but childish and simple animation.  However, some parts, especially the end, move into a more refined and anime-style animation.  There are some scenes that are simply gorgeous, but those are few and far between.  However, when the action hits it is really beautiful to see, and the final scenes of the film are pretty spectacular.  And these spectacularly animated scenes are met with an equally majestic soundtrack.  The theater was shaking during the climax of the film!

Ne Zha also tries to tell deeper messages of prejudice and fate, but those are lost a little in the execution.  For example, the villagers fear and dislike the boy because of his past, but also because he gets into trouble and damages their homes and bodies.  It was tough to feel bad for him when he was consistently (unintentionally) hurting those who were afraid of him.  Additionally, this might be a culture barrier, but I didn't love some of the jokes and humor of the film.  The characters are fine but mostly one note, and the main friendship in the film feels rushed.  The film spends so much time at the start that when it tries to get to the main conflict, it rushes at top speed without much additional development.

Ne Zha is a beautifully animated feature that tries to tell a deeper message but doesn't quite execute.  It should be enjoyed if you are interested in this film, but can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home.

Rent it

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