Aftershock (2010)

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Author’s Note: It’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down and wrote anything for the blog. Most of the time I’ve been content on discussing movies I watched during the shows.It’s not that I feel rusty writing again, but that the movie I’m reviewing probably derserved both a written and audio review. I tried 3 days this week to record the podcast, but my voice would only hold up for about 10 minutes or so. Again, getting a hoarse voice is like “Broadcaster’s disease”, so for all of you wanting to hear my beautiful voice, I apologize.

Aftershock: Sometimes the survivors are worse off…

Words: Desmond Childs
 

One characteristic of great storytelling, in my opinion, is the continutity throughout. A character who has trouble swimming shouldn’t then be able to save his sister fromdrowning on sheer will. It’s sort of a weird, cheap cop-out. However, seeing that character learn, practice, and finally struggle himself into being able to doggie paddle just seems more rewarding to me, as part of the audience. I’d also like to think that character felt better about himself too. Anyhow, seeing characters being shaped, shifted, and molded by their experiences is always something that should be kept on reel. Of course in excess, learning how the intergalatic race of pod people living in “Monster B” came into being, would sorta get boring after awhile. It’s definietly a slippery slope; “How did he learn Kung-fu” but not “So when did the master, who taught his master, learn kung-fu”. Then again, having great writers can cause an audience to overlook the “extra” chunks of information that isn’t vital to the plot. EX: IP MAN 1, 2, and (3?). Aftershock is a film that deals with the lives of tramutized victims of an earthquake, as well as their families. It’s also a movie that goes thr extra mile and lays out the lives of the affected individuals for up to 32 years after the incident occured. Needless to say, their lives were still very much affected by the dieaster all those years before.

Directed By:

Feng Xiaogang

 

Feng_xiaogang

Mr. Feng got his start as a stage designer in the Beijing Military Region Art Troupe. Later, he began writing scripts based on the Chinese New Year celebrations. And finally, after carving himself a niche in that, he began to write for comedy films. Prior to Aftershock, which he did not write, he was know mostly for his comedic films. He would often use the actor, Ge You in his films and rarely strayed away from this setup. It was only recently that he decided that he wanted to expand past making only comedy movies.  Some of his accolades (and there are quite a few) include his screenplay for ‘A World without Thieves‘ winning a Golden Horse Award in 2005; as well as ‘A sigh’ winning Best Film in Cairo’s International Film Festival. His picture, ‘Assembly, also garnered some attention at the 28th Hong Kong film awards best asian pictures. Whatever the one-time stage designer is doing in movies, it most be working. Now on to the topic of his 2010 movie, Aftershock.

In Memory of those lost…

Aftershock is a well-put together project with a great cast of actors and actresses and an okay, CGI-laden production aesthetic that doesn’t bother too much. The events shown in this film are based off the Tangshan earthquakes of 1976. I’m not in the business of giving away large parts of the plot, so there are no spoiler warnings necessary here.

The story centers around a family of four that is caught right in the midst of the earthquake. The wife and husband initially make it out unscathed, but the kids are caught under the rubble. Things go from bad to worse when the husband makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect his wife, and she later has to decide between which of her kids to save. It’s one of those, “If you save this one, the other dies because of it” situations, and it’s pretty gutwrenching, even without a “tug at your heart strings” score backing it up. At this point the movie spilts in two, and later, thirds, as the survivors try to move on with their lives. We see the kids graduate and go off to college, have kids, get married, and so on. It’s really tough for me to describe a film with this much character without spoiling some plot points, so this will be another pretty straightforward review. There wasn’t anything in this film I did not like. I enjoyed every minute of it, and while several characters were added on toward the end of the film, I never felt like “it was too much”. Many of the people in the film have to deal with losing a loved one, or being a single parent, dealing with a underachieving child, etc. Thankfully, the movie is able to handle each issue with as little bias as possible, choosing not to make anyone seem “wrong” for the choices they make. Because we all know and understand that the real world’s “grey area” is all over, and very little is black in white; in this type of situation. If I still gave number or letter grades this one would score high where it counts. Engaging story based on history, memorable characters who I could relate to (sympathize with), and a production value that didn’t rely totally on CGI effects and gory scenes.

The film is on Netflix, go watch it. The movie trailer’s below, BADA-BING! BADA-BOOM:

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