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Gemini Man (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Ang Lee’s Gemini Man is probably one of the most noble box office disappointments of 2019. The Will Smith action-thriller couldn’t really sell itself for what it truly was, and merely came off looking like merely a “Hey, look at old Will Smith vs young Will Smith” de-aging movie. The real selling point isn’t the effects or the story, but in how that story was told. Unfortunately, theaters weren’t really equipped to show the trailer at the frame rate with which the film would play (And your theater had to be properly saddled with a projector to pull it off as well). For those who are locked in to the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray technology, you’ll be able to sample it in such a way when it arrives for owning on January 14th. Are you curious about this high frame rate method, against it, for it? Take a look at the review, check out the film and let us know in the comments.

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Film

Henry Brogan is an elite 51-year-old assassin who’s ready to call it quits after completing his 72nd job. His plans get turned upside down when he becomes the target of a mysterious operative who can seemingly predict his every move. To his horror, Brogan soon learns that the man who’s trying to kill him is a younger, faster, cloned version of himself.

Gemini Man’s conversation to be had is more technological than it is the movie at hand. Say what you will, if you properly show Gemini Man to someone (High frame rate), that’s what they will want to discuss. The movie itself isn’t much to writer home about. This is a technological experimental film. As a movie itself, the film is overly simple with its plot, characters and core themes at play. And that’s good, because the “how” in which you’re watching it would be too much for most to have to do extra for in giving the movie some more attention. In all honesty, its the right move for a project of this scale.

Ang Lee’s high frame rate is meant to polish things up for the 3-D presentation, not so much watching it straight like that, but that’s how I think most of the 14 theaters presenting it did. And its an interesting attempt. Things feel very much like a video game and Lee really plays into that with his angles, perspectives and camera movements. Though, it can look like a BBC program on steroids a lot as well. The clarity is astounding as if you’re almost sitting across from an actor. Though, with the frame rate, one of the biggest issues is your eyes never truly adjust and accept and a lot of it comes across as phony. Perfectly fine performances feel like bad acting (I’ve compared the feeling of their cadence to something of a Neil Breen film, but I’m not BASHING or calling this abysmal, that’s just my only comparison that comes to mind). Explosions, gunshots and action don’t feel as big and almost feel like you’re watching some on-set behind the scenes footage rather than a big action movie. Overall, its just really weird.

What gets overshadowed here is the terrific digital work on display in the film that is pretty much flawless. Young Will Smith is one of the greatest digital creations we’ve seen and he’s mostly built from scratch. The film also has a lot of cars, sets and shots that aren’t there or don’t connect and its so seamless and “natural” feeling that I was astonished when I saw one of the featurettes and realized I would never had known what I was watching didn’t exist. I have to give credit to the digital artists on this film as they did some of the best work of the decade/century here and don’t seem to be getting enough credit for it.

While the frame rate is an odd duck and effects the viewing, on my second “watch” (Skimmed through to show someone), I do want to show some respect to the action sequences and stunt choregography. Its pretty effective and seems unique and progressive. There is a motorcycle chase, a couple footchases and some shootouts that really are terrific. If anything with Gemini Man, its a “show off”/demo kind of film where you could care less about the movie and just show someone the highlight moments of the film and don’t really make them sit through the whole thing.

Video

Screen captures displayed in this review are from the Blu-ray disc included in this set, presented at 1080p/24FPS. 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: Gemini Man’s 4K Ultra-HD disc is presented at a rate of 60 frames per second. This is almost 100% the conversation to be had about this movie. The image is razor sharp, vivid, full of incredible details and 3-dimensional looking actors and objects. I had to talk in my review about it, but again it has a weird look to it with how quickly it plays back. Its very smooth, everything in focus, but it can come across as very phony a lot of the time. It can look like a BBC show at times or some sort of original program that you’d see back on that HDNET channel from the 200os (Is that still around?). This gets the highest of marks in terms of image quality, that’s a no brainer. But, its not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and no doubtedly makes for a distracting viewing experience when you are seeing the film for the first time.

Depth:  This has a video-game like feeling of dimensions. Everything is clear, crisp and in focus. There’s barely a blur around. Movements are hyper-natural, with very smooth real-time motion. Camera movements are very smooth and extremely confident. No motion blur at all here.

Black Levels: Blacks are natural, deep and extremely well saturated. Information and detail remains and is quite strong in any given lighting scenario, even the darkest moments. The amount of shading an different levels in some of the worst visibility is impressive. No crushing witnessed. Some of the most impressive moments in terms of visual detail come in the darker moments because you’re not used to seeing as much clarity in these situations.

Color Reproduction: There are many sequences that take place in a tropical area or a beautiful looking place like Budapest so that its quite striking and vivid throughout. Colors punch through quite easily and even the regular old browns and grays present themselves in a bold and impressive manner. HDR impacts with good color enhancement and sticks out moreso in the realm of lasers and explosions, but its just another player in something shot like this.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the film. Skin is fully flush and bold in its appearance. Facial textures and details are almost comparable to sitting across from a person with a clean piece of glass between you. Pores, make-up lines, wrinkles, lip texture, stubble, blemishes and anything comes through perfectly. What’s impressive also is how well a majority of the blood, cuts and bruising make-up presents itself as pretty convincing or at the worst “passable” given how you can see everything at such great clarity and frame rate.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Audio Description, Spanish (Latin America) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, French (Canada) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Malaysian, Cantonese, Spanish (Latin America), French, French (Canada), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Dutch, Thai

Dynamics: Gemini Man’s Dolby Atmos track fully compliments the image with an immersive and scaringly life-like track that brings every environment fully to life. Its probably an illusion, but with the frame rate going how it does, the audio feels that much more ever-present. The mix is very loose, free and has expert level volumes placed on every little effect. Depth is outstanding with good layering throughout. Every boom and pop comes with great impact as well.

Height: Plenty of fun comes from above and matches perfectly to what is happening on screen and how the camera angle reflects it. From a plane, to a motorcycle jumping over, bullets ricocheting or debris falling from above, you’re absolutely covered.

Low Frequency Extension: Gunfire, explosions, car crashes, doors closing, waves crashing  and loud splashing are many of the things that really land some impact. Said impact also provides varying and appropriate degrees of pressure provided from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: The mix here is incredibly fun and bounces anywhere around the room and even has some of the lightest touches from any given speaker. Rolling sound and travel across the room is outstanding. They even have fun with the score in the mix, having it lean on certain channels in the lighter moments.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clear and completely crisp to a level of perfect capture. Every little sound and inflection is present and pronounced.

Extras

Gemini Man comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy code.

4K

Visual Effects Progression Presented By WETA (4K, 3:02) – While very brief, this featurette tells and shows a whole lot of how the effects in this movie worked.  I was actually quite stunned at how certain scenes had stuff I didn’t know was CG and or shots that were put together that weren’t cohesive at all.

Blu-ray

Alternate Opening (HD, 5:49) – Presented at a higher frame rate, but looking more like a BBC production from the 2000s.

Deleted Scenes – Again, presented at the frame rate of the Alternate Opening.

  • I Found A Plane For Us (HD, :40) 
  • Original Yuri Scene (HD, 3:54) – A sequence shot in Budapest that was eventually rewritten, reshot and recast.

The Genesis of Gemini Man (2:54) – Apparently this movie was 25 years in the making. Passing around through the likes of Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford as the potential leads in years past. Features Ang Lee, Jerry Bruckheimer and Will Smith giving their thoughts on it.

Facing Your Younger Self (HD, 5:40) – This talks about the moral quandary and curiosity of being able to connect with and interact with a younger version of yourself.

The Future Is Now (HD, 18:32) – An pretty terrific featurette that goes over the creation of the “young Will Smith” animation in the film and how to recreate the authenticity. Their biggest reference point for him was actually Will Smith in the original Bad Boys. There a lot of thoughts, details and just how big of a process philosophically it is as it is a technically.

Setting the Action (HD, 15:46) – “An intelligent action film” as Jerry Bruckheimer calls it, this goes over the stunts and action choreography in the film.

Next Level Detail (HD, 3:45) – This vignette shines a light on the set craft, construction and incredible attention to detail on the catacombs set in Budapest.

The Vision of Ang Lee (HD, 6:04) – A fascinating feature on the 120 frame rate. Ang Lee says he specifically utilizes it for the 3D aspect of the film, but when watched in 2D he prefers the 24fps. Bruckheimer and Will Smith find it to be the future for cinema as the video gamer era grows up. Clive Own discusses the challenges of acting with the frame rate as everything has to be even more subtle than ever and that going big comes off incredibly phony. All great points made on it.

Summary

As is the dual nature of the lead character in the film, as is the film Gemini Man itself. There is Gemini Man: The Movie and Gemini Man: The Experience. The movie is boringly average, but the experience is one of the most unique and interesting 2019 had to offer (If you were able find a theater with the intended display, that is). At home, if you have the correct equipment, you can check out the high frame rate and see for yourself. As a movie I can’t recommend the film, but as a demo disc and a fascinating view, its a no-brainer. The extras provided are actually pretty nutritional as well, only lacking an Ang Lee, Jerry Bruckheimer and Will Smith commentary. If you are a home theater nut and are interested in the technological side of film, pick this up and finally dump that Billy Lynn Halftime Walk disc you were holding too for the reasons you’ll buy Gemini Man.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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