Gemini Man (4K UHD)
Ang Lee’s latest film Gemini Man, which stars not one, but TWO Will Smith’s arrives on 4K Ultra HD this week, but is it worth bringing home? Check out my full review to see what I thought!
Gemini Man is an interesting story and not at all what I was expecting based on the trailers. Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is a military assassin, one of the best trained and effective agents around. After his most recent mission, where he takes out a man on a fast moving train, he decides to retire. The manner of work, as well as age, is starting to get to him and he feels it’s time to move on.
Retirement for a top assassin isn’t easy, however, and life gets really complicated when Henry meets up with an old friend, Jack Willis, who provides him with some disturbing information. His last mission wasn’t a hit on terrorists as he’d been told, but a civilian scientist.
Obviously this isn’t information he should know, nor do those behind it want it discovered and spread. Suddenly, Brogan finds himself the target of assassin’s, but manages to escape and rescues Danielle Zakarweski (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to ensure she isn’t killed by association.
With the help of an old friend Baron (Benedict Wong), Henry and Danny embark on a globetrotting adventure to not only survive, but figure out what’s going on. It’s a mission that manages to get even MORE complicated when Henry’s attacked by another highly skilled assassin, who just happens to look exactly like him (albeit much younger).
The revelation of the clone reveals an old enemy and a disturbing conspiracy (from the private military company, Gemini) that could change the scope of warfare forever. I’m trying to still keep this relatively spoiler free, for those who missed it in theaters, so I’ll keep the story beats to that.
As I said, this isn’t the film I was expecting. To be honest, the trailers didn’t make it clear exactly what kind of film we’d be getting. In many ways, it’s a far more personal and slower film than initially presented. It takes plenty of time for exposition (sometimes a bit too much) and to build up the characters, and isn’t the straight up techno-thriller you think it would be.
It has a lot to say about the nature of war, killing, and choosing to be better. I love that aspect of the film and it helped make those action sequences connect on a more emotional level. Will Smith is great in both roles and while the technology has some issues here and there, it’s still a stunning achievement that managed to suck me in. The performances all around are great, and the action is stunning. Ang Lee knows how to craft exceptional action scenes; managing to feel grounded, while incorporating the high-tech elements.
I totally understand why so many seemed to have issues with the film when it first released. It’s more “talky” and heavy-handed in its message than the action-thriller it tries to bill itself as. Even so, it worked incredibly well for me. Something about the overall story and action clicked with me and I found myself highly engaged, absolutely loving the ride, and eager to check it out again.
Sight and Sound
Before Gemini Man’s release, there was a lot of chatter that went into the technical aspects of the film. From the visual effects used to put Will Smith against a younger version of himself, to the much talked about 120fps frame rate, the technology seemed to be the primary point of discussion beyond the film itself. As such, it’s kinda interesting that the home entertainment release doesn’t even allow viewers the option to watch the film in that format.
Don’t get me wrong, there are notable differences between the blu-ray (which only showcases the film in 24fps) and the 4K version (outputs at 60fps). It’s just funny that the major aspect so many of us film people were talking about prior to release isn’t even an option. Regardless of this, the film is absolutely gorgeous in UHD.
While some struggle with high frame rates on film, it’s something I’ve really enjoyed (even when The Hobbit films did it). While some don’t enjoy the too smooth, almost hyper-real image that comes with a higher frame rate in movies, I dig it and it looks amazing for Gemini Man. Even with this in play, the quality never falters and consistently delivers a crystal clear image. Even during the more intense action sequences, the level of detail on display is impressive, making them fun to watch even on multiple viewings.
The colors are bright and pop off the screen. While there are a couple moments in the film where the digital de-aging VFX feels a bit “off” on the whole, they look great on the 4K presentation. The UHD really highlights the level of detail put into the process that’s impressive even when it doesn’t always work.
The sound on the 4K release is equally impressive, taking advantage of a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The details put into the sound design immerse you in the action scenes, but the proper priority is given to dialog. You won’t be constantly adjusting the volume between the dialog and action moments. While I haven’t reviewed a huge amount of 4K UHD releases, I can say this is easily one of the most impressive I’ve seen from the technical standpoint.
The Bonus Features
The Gemini Man 4K Ultra HD includes a digital copy insert and a blu-ray copy of the film that contains all but one of the special features:
The Genesis of Gemini Man
Facing Your Younger Self
The Future Is Now
Setting the Action
Next Level Detail
The Vision of Ang Lee
There is one special feature on the 4K disc, “Visual Effects Progression presented by WETA.” It’s fairly short at only a few minutes, but features some interesting information on how much work goes into the film’s VFX, even in minor sequences. The rest of the bonus features are pretty interesting as well, if a bit standard.
I enjoyed the behind the scenes featurettes, especially “The Future is Now” as it offered a fairly lengthy (nearly 20 mintues) look at the de-aging technology and how it evolved for this film specifically. The alternate opening and deleted scenes are fun, though don’t feel like much more than “neat.” All in all, there are a number of solid special features that add to the overall home entertainment release.
It can be a bit long-winded at times, which makes some of the themes come off heavy-handed, but I was hooked. It worked for me. Combined with the impressive technical presentation and solid bonus features, picking up Gemini Man on 4K Ultra HD feels like a no-brainer.