If this is the way mainstream Chinese cinema wants to break into international markets, nobody in Hollywood needs to lose a second of sleep, unless one is prone to have nightmares from terrible films. Vincent Zhou’s film doubles down on all the problems hounding big budget Chinese mainland cinema – the antiseptic writing, the stiff acting, the technically accomplished but creatively bankrupt look – and makes things worse by adding everything you can do wrong in an international co-production of this sort. So the female lead of a film shot in English goes to the only Chinese actress in the film whose English is truly bad – Zhan Yuqi – because she’s the most popular female cast member in China instead of someone who can actually deliver her lines. The western actors are mostly horrible or miscast to absurdity. Brandon Routh as tough special forces soldier turned cook anyone?
The dialogue – despite one Peter Cameron whom I suspect to be an English
native speaker credited as co-writer – often sounds as if it were directly
translated from Mandarin, which leads to many a dialogue sequence full of
hilarious non-sequiturs and clichés, turning a film that is clearly meant as a
serious adventure/SF/disaster movie thing into a comedy of
embarrassment for everyone involved.
The plot? Some guff about an airplane Titanic, people acting in the most
idiotic ways possible, a bunch of walking clichés, a thousand different
plotlines without much of a connection or development, and the horrible threat
of a horde of CGI cartoon cats who can be calmed by music, namely a blind guy
doing horrible things to the classical canon on his cello. Seriously. It’s the
sort of script that makes your typical Michael Bay movie look like Shakespeare
in comparison. And no, of course there’s neither suspense nor tension to be
found anywhere. There are only pretty people who won’t (even though least some
of them could) act, saying the darndest things.