Should you watch Gemini Man in high-frame-rate (HFR) and 3D? Ang Lee's latest technological experiment is ostensibly an old-fashioned thriller starring Will Smith as an assassin hunted by his younger self (also Smith via motion capture), but the real sell is how it's presented.
Gemini Man was made to be viewed in 3D at 120 frames-per-second (fps). 3D is a well-known commodity, but HFR is a less well-established offering. Traditional movies are shot and projected in 24fps, which gives film its long-accepted texture (perhaps best seen in motion blur). This has been a hard-set standard since the early days of cinema, but it's begun to evolve. In 2012, Peter Jackson made The Hobbit trilogy for 48fps, a move which left most feeling Middle-earth looked like a cheap soap opera. Ang Lee has become a major proponent of the tool, with Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and now Gemini Man released in eye-watering 120fps, while James Cameron and Andy Serkis intended to use the tech for the Avatar sequels and Animal Farm, respectively.
But as the industry debates whether HFR is the future, you face a more immediate and important conundrum: whether to pay extra (and possibly travel further) to watch Gemini Man in HFR 3D. Here's our breakdown of whether it's worth your money.
Yes, You Definitely Should See Gemini Man In HFR (If You Can)
Regardless of if you've seen HFR movie before, it's worth seeing Gemini Man in the format if possible. This is the best use of HFR so far, and if you're at all interested in seeing what the fuss is about, now's your chance.
That's not to say Gemini Man's HFR is flawless. While there are specific, meticulously-constructed sequences that take full advantage of the clean, smooth image, the majority of the movie sits in an uncanny valley of reality, looking more real yet unlike anything you've come to expect form film. HFR is essentially a new format of film projection, and it requires new film language. Unfortunately, too much of Gemini Man is shot in a standard fashion, meaning that shattered glass is obviously fake and close-combat fights are clearly stunt doubles. This is a work-in-progress technology, so adjust expectations accordingly.
All that said, there is a problem when it comes to geography. Only 14 theaters in North America will be playing Gemini Man in 120fps 3D (and those are only in 2K, with Ang Lee's desired 4K totally unavailable outside of Asia). Every other HRF screening of the film will be in 60fps. Make sure you check with your local theater to find out what they're offering.
Should You See Gemini Man In 3D?
Most blockbuster movies still release in 3D, but even those shot in stereoscopy are rarely treated as an event film where you feel compelled to pay the extra surcharge. If you've not seen a 3D movie in a while, however, Gemini Man is a good choice to break the 2D streak. The movie was shot with 3D in mind and Ang Lee brings an experienced eye. While technologically the same, its use Gemini Man is an extension of the 3D era sparked by Avatar. Everything is behind the screen, with nothing pointy reaching out at you. This leads to a couple of strange moments when a gun aiming behind the field of view is unrealistically blurred, but for the most part makes for a more expansive experience.
Is It OK To Watch Gemini Man In 2D?
If you don't have a HFR theater near you, struggle with the 3D glasses or simply don't want to pay extra, is Gemini Man still worth seeing in basic 2D (even with bad reviews)? That answer's a bit complicated. On the one hand, it's fundamentally the same movie, so you're not missing out on any action or story by buying a 24fps ticket. On the other, Gemini Man is a theatrical experience where the tech is fundamental to the sell. Without HRF 3D, you're just getting a 1990s-throwback action movie that includes an impressive (if not flawless) motion-capture de-aged Will Smith. If that's enough, then knock yourself out.
- Gemini Man (2019) release date: Oct 11, 2019