More countries have begun to produce computer-animated films, following in the footsteps of Disney and Pixar. Other than the French production Pil’s Adventures, which is now showing in Singapore theatres, there is also the Chinese production Green Snake, which has just been released on Netflix.
It may be difficult to overtake multinational media conglomerates like Disney, but here’s how Green Snake showcases the capabilities and potential of Chinese animation studios.
1. It breathes new life into the Chinese folktale Legend Of The White Snake.
Green Snake, which is the sequel to White Snake (2019), is inspired by the Chinese folktale Legend Of The White Snake. It features the two snake sisters Blanca the White Snake (Zhang Zhe) and Verta the Green Snake (Tang Xiaoxi).
While White Snake was a new take on the well-known forbidden love story between Blanca and a human, Green Snake depicts the adventures of her younger sister Verta. Interestingly, Green Snake is set in a dystopian city named Asuraville, where Verta is trapped after trying to free her sister from the clutches of the demon-slaying monk Fahai.
The legend-inspired, brand new story also features iconic creatures from Chinese mythology, such as the Ox-Heads and Horse-Faces. Green Snake also sees the return of the Precious Jade Workshop Foxy Boss (Zheng Xiaopu) from White Snake, who may soon have a story of her own (more on this later), judging from the mid-credits scene.
2. It's action-packed, though it needs better storytelling.
Although White Snake has a greater element of romance in its story, Green Snake possesses little to no such romance. Instead, it features full-fledged action scenes showing how Verta fights her way out of Asuraville through unwavering determination.
However, its story seems to have gone entirely off course as the premise is about Verta trying to find and rescue her sister, and she took almost the entire film duration to just get out of the dystopian city. The ending then becomes a very poor attempt to tie the story back to its premise, which also fails to induce the intended effect of the heartwarming bond between the sisters.
3. It's part of a series of computer-animated films by Light Chaser Animation Studios.
Green Snake is produced by Light Chaser Animation Studios, which previously released New Gods: Nezha Reborn, and of course, White Snake. The studio apparently is not stopping here, as they have already teased — in both Nezha Reborn and Green Snake — an upcoming production New Gods: Yang Jian.
Yang Jian will be the sequel of Nezha Reborn, and similarly spins the Chinese legend The Investiture Of The Gods in a new light. It will focus on the story of the titular character, who is better known as Erlang Shen. The new film will also likely feature the Foxy Boss again, whose real identity has been speculated to be the nine-tailed fox Daji in The Investiture Of The Gods.
It seems Light Chaser Animation Studios is on the way to creating a Chinese folktale cinematic universe similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This may be a good way to let international audiences understand more about the vastness and beauty of Chinese culture. Although they only have a few films under their belt now, it will be interesting to see how far they can go.
To top it off, the studio has consistently produced impeccable detailed works that continue to awe its audience. In Green Snake, the landscapes, like the stone mountains and ocean waves, sometimes look so real that they could pass off as live-action sceneries.
What I’m most impressed with is how they even created texture on the characters’ faces to imitate facial pores. The texture becomes apparent in certain close-up shots, and is better appreciated on bigger television screens (as compared to laptop or mobile screens).
Directed by Amp Wong, Green Snake is now streaming on Netflix.
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