A lot has been said about the visuals in Gemini Man. The Ang Lee film was shot in 120 Frames Per Second (which is Lee’s latest obsession) and it frankly looks jarring. The High Frame Rate makes the 3D look crisp and the action scenes look cool. But everything else simply looks weird and not in a good way. In my review I wrote:
What did HFR really accomplish here? The world of Gemini Man looks and feels exactly like ours. So is the point of 3D + HFR for us to admire the racy detail of the girl in a bikini? Or is it supposed to make us feel like we’re sitting beside a character while he’s watching a game of soccer on his telly? Are we supposed to be impressed that we can make out the outline of a bee that’s buzzing around Will Smith’s head?
The format of Gemini Man has also made people wonder about James Cameron’s upcoming Avatar sequels. After all, as far as cinematic technology and format go, Cameron is the master. But Cameron doesn’t think HFR is a format that should be used to shoot an entire film. When asked by Collider’s Steve Weintraub on what he thought about the HFR in Gemini Man, Cameron had this to say:
“I’ve seen some clips from Gemini Man. I haven’t seen the picture yet because I’m down here in New Zealand. I’m interested to see it. I mean, I have a personal philosophy around high frame rate, which is that it is a specific solution to specific problems having to do with 3D. And when you get the strobing and the jutter of certain shots that pan or certain lateral movement across frame, it’s distracting in 3D.
And to me, it’s just a solution for those shots. I don’t think it’s a format. That’s just me personally. I know Ang doesn’t see it that way. I don’t think it’s like the next 70 millimetre or the next big thing. I think it’s a tool to be used to solve problems in 3D projection. And I’ll be using it sparingly throughout the Avatar films, but they won’t be in high frame rate. But I am curious to see what they came up with.”
Cameron followed that up with:
“To me, the more mundane the subject, two people talking in the kitchen, the worse it works, because you feel like you’re in a set of a kitchen with actors in makeup. That’s how real it is, you know? But I think when you’ve got extraordinary subjects that are being shot for real, or even through CG, that hyper-reality actually works in your favor. So to me, it’s a wand that you wave in certain moments and use when you need it. It’s an authoring tool.”
I think Cameron really hit the nail on the head there. If a film is meant to be projected in 3D, a little bit of HFR will make it look crisp. But as we saw in Gemini Man, HFR really sticks out like a sore thumb in scenes where people are simply having a conversation or doing regular things.
Avatar 2 will hit cinemas in December 2021.