Chinese 3D animation doesn't get talked about the way it should, but that is something that is beginning to change gradually. When it comes to the genre, the country delivers memorable movies that rival its Hollywood counterpart.
For the purpose of clarification, New Gods: Nezha Reborn isn't a sequel to the 2019 film titled Nezha. Both movies are from two different companies and even though they focus on the same titular character, they worked independently, with the former actually going into production first.
This Netflix film is directed by Zhao Ji and has a voice cast that includes Yang Tianxiang, Zhang He, Xuan Xiaoming, Li Shimeng, Zhu Ke'er, and King Zhenhe.
Unlike the ancient world depicted in Nezha, this time a futuristic steampunk world serves as the backdrop in New Gods: Nezha Reborn, and the protagonist is a bike rider who is the reincarnation of the antagonistic deity known as Nezha.
A chance meeting with the son of the Dragon King leads to the revelation that Li Yunxiang (Tianxiang) is more than he appears to be. Before Li can master his powers as Nezha, the Dragon King (Xiaoming) and others hatch a plot to get rid of him for good.
Though headstrong and quick-tempered, Li has a good heart and when he is told by a mysterious helper called the Masked Man (He) that he is Nezha reborn, he must find a way to harness his pyrokinetic abilities before the Dragon King and his band of superpowered mercenaries destroy him and everyone he holds dear.
From the opening frame of the movie, the detailed look of the 3D animation captures the viewer's attention. It's nothing but just beautiful art in its most impressive form.
I haven't been a fan of Chinese 3D animation for long but with what I have seen of them, I can confidently say fans of the genre would do well to start watching their Donghuas because they are in most cases delightful and will keep the viewer enthralled.
New Gods: Nezha Reborn has a thin-layered plot and the character development isn't all that great. Yes, the hero does experience some growth at a point but it all seems kind of rushed.
Apart from the above, the movie is great in almost every other way. It's an action film so in that department, the director left no stone unturned. The final result is an aesthetically appealing ensemble with the type of visual effects that would make fans gape in awe.
Every action scene just leaves you wanting for more; the dynamic camera, the amazing shots, and the hard-hitting punches and kicks all make for a wonderful visual experience.
Disney's latest animation Raya and the Last Dragon had me swooning and I can say the same about New Gods: Nezha Reborn. The final showdown was a bit underwhelming for me but that is easily forgotten by the time the film ends.
I love the fact that the protagonist always seems to have this conflict within him; an endless battle between good and evil. Add the fact that an all-powerful deity dwells in him and what you get is a troubled hero bent on conquering the rising evil inside.
Apart from Li, none of the other characters really make an impression on me but they all contribute to the hero's journey to the ultimate realization, and that is this; we are who we choose to be.
New Gods: Nezha Reborn really wowed me and I look forward to more Donghuas like this from China. Hopefully, Netflix will continue making movies like these available on their platform for streaming. Two thumbs up to the director!