I saw a movie so I'm writing a rambling review!
I went into this film mostly because 'ooh that's a cool premise. I wanna see the cool things do the cool things'. I didn't go in expecting a mind-blowing thought-provoking masterpiece. And I definitely got what I expected.
Save a single large-scale overhead pan shot where the ant-sized characters walking did not sync up with the camera pan and it looked like they were gliding, the CG was generally seamless and I had a great time. I saw this in IMAX and it was exciting. I don't know if IMAX sound quality is different from theater to theater, but holy hell was it ever a loud movie too. I don't think I've ever gone to a film and been bothered by the volume level. But that happened.
Entertaining things: part of the core of the plot is an East v. West battle. Our initial main characters are West people with whom we sympathize, but other than that we're made to villainize the West. It was effective, and worked with the plot, but I am amazed that they were able to make a big-budget Hollywood film that is so clearly 'white people bad' 'people of color good'. It was amazing. 10/10 here for it.
The movie starts us out with a main male character named Tom who is less of a Gary Stu and more of a narrative lens for us to meet the main female character Hester. Like, I'm 90% sure that during one of the production meetings for the film the screenwriters sat down with a book and said 'what two character traits from the book should we give this guy' and then they wrote on a whiteboard 'history nerd and aviator'. He gets like two or three plot contrivances that make it so he couldn't really be pulled out of the story, but other than that, stuff just sort of happens to him while other more skilled characters do things around him.
Also, apparently they straightened his hair for the film. When I was looking up photos of the actor, Robert Michael Sheehan, I almost didn't recognize him with his curly hair.
I read an article of differences between the book and the film (I have not read the book) and one of the things is that Hester has much more facial disfigurement in the book. In the movie it's this little one-swipe-of-a-knife slash on her chin and cheek.
And apparently the directorial justification for that is 'we wanted her to be able to emote more, and a large facial disfigurement prosthetic would inhibit that'.
Okay. No. This character as she appears in the movie is super duper emotionally reserved. Her mom is murdered when she's eight and then she's raised by some weird half-robot half-reanimated corpse thing for the rest of her life. She is a child raised in trauma and justifiably has a limited emotional range. Keeping the facial disfigurement would not have hurt the character.
Plus like, there's more to acting than just the face. Masked theater exists. Body movement is a thing.
Like, be honest and just say that the marketing team wants a pretty face for posters.
Oh, and about that reanimated corpse guy.
His name is Shirek, every time they say his name it sounds like Shrek, and I didn't want him in the movie.
The book is 293 pages. The book probably explains him better. The movie did not explain him well, and I think there's a reason that he did not appear in any of the marketing content that I saw of this film.
Like we've got the giant sky cities. We've got the giant wheeley cities. We've got a cool little sea-prison city. And then we have a half-robot half-corpse reanimated who wants do that Other Mother thing to Hester and maker her like him.
His justification is 'oh I'm a cold emotionless robot dead person. I feel no emotions. I see that you're feeling sad, which makes me sad. If I turn you into a cold emotionless robot dead person you won't feel sad'.
Which makes no sense as presented in the film because like, he exhibits emotion too. I bet the book did it better but I was conFUSED.
And like, I don't think this book had a huge fandom. I don't think anyone would have been truly hurt if they cut the character and reworked how Hester got the weird necklace thing. It just didn't work for me.
Lastly, the film was based on one book but it somehow feels like twenty books shoved into one.
Oh, and Hester delivers a line at one point making fun of the trope of characters telling stories to one another of their sad past traumas, which was cool. But then later she tells her story of her sad past trauma, which was not cool.
Also the Shirek death scene with flashbacks was cheesy and melodramatic.
I had a fun time. I don't think I wasted my money. The visuals were cool, but I wouldn't see it twice.