Friday, December 28, 2018


And… There. Review written and posted exactly one day after it closes in the Boston area and most of North America. That's useful!

I did have a little more fun at this one than you might guess from the review, in part because I came in knowing next to nothing about it and thinking it might be a bit more of a low-key fantasy comedy rather than one that went as big as it did. It doesn't always go big in a way that's exciting or makes sense, but it's at least sometimes surprising, and that was fun in the moment even if it leads to a "wait, that's stupid" reaction later.

Tian qi yu bao (Airpocalypse)

* * (out of four)
Seen 22 December 2018 in AMC Boston Common #3 (first-run, DCP)

There's a dog that shows up a couple times toward the beginning of Airpocalypse, with what seems like a kind of important job story-wise, and he just kind of wanders off when he's done without actually seeming like he's made a difference. That's kind of how the whole movie feels, except the dog is more entertaining than a lot of what actually sticks around in this fantasy full of random ideas that never really stick together.

Beijing's infamous haze is worse than usual as it starts, which is not great for many, although Ma Le (Xiao Yang) is doing good business in suicide intervention with a sort of extreme psychotherapy. A call from Bai Xuejing (Xiao Shenyang), who has become the richest man in northern China on the back of a popular brand of air-filtration system, is particularly bizarre, as he claims to be the God of Thunder, who has been marooned on Earth for five thousand years but will be able to pick up his hammer again when the haze gets so thick that the elder gods cannot see him do it, then ruling/destroying the world. Ma Le figures he's nuts but potentially lucrative, at least until the God of the South Pole and Longevity (Wang Xiaoli) falls on top of him. The god's mojo is somehow transferred, and thus it is apparently up to Ma Le to reunite the other banished gods - God of Wind Chang Xiayang (Yi Yunhee), God of Rain Huang He (Chong Yuan), and Mother of Lightening Cai Ming (Du Juan), whose current incarnation is the motorcycle cop who wrote Ma Le up for stopping to rescue a dog on the way back from Bai Xuejing's estate.

(See? That dog was crucial yet entirely disposable after its second appearance, despite being fantastic running joke material.)

There is at least an entertaining anarchy to the movie at the start, which occasionally reappears when the special effects stuff starts to get bigger and crazier sery the end. Perhaps this is partly a matter of me not knowing just how much director & star Xiao Yang and his co-writers cobbled together their own bizarre mythology and how much will be familiar to a Chinese audience, but Xiao is initially throwing random slapstick and irreverence at the screen, trying to top how hard he got the audience to laugh a couple minutes earlier or how bizarre (and occasionally clever) the giant-scale action at the end is. A lot of gags are dead on arrival or are thrown against the wall to never be seen again, but for a while, it's the sort of good chaos that works.

Full review at EFC.

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