The time is 1902, and visiting Westerner Raymond Harris (Jared Harris)has set up a primitive projector to introduce the Chinese to the magic of moving pictures .... Shadow Magic.
He meets with a lot of opposition, including from venerable Chinese Opera star Lord Tan (Yusheng Li). But he also gains a disciple, the young Liu Jinglun (Yu Xia), who wants to penetrate the reality behind the magic the projector casts.
It's a promising theme, but it's told here with too much of a Disney-like flavour. It's simply too old-fashioned. This tale could have been made 60 years ago.
The drama and conflict of two societies meeting head-on is subordinated to the beauty of the landscape and costumes -- and there seems no real attempt at characterisation at all. It's all shadow, and not nearly enough cinema magic.
This is a negligible drama about the introduction of cinema to China, and its inadequacies are compounded by it being given a disgraceful fullscreen transfer.
This is a fullscreen transfer, with no indication at all of whether a soft matte has been opened up, or whether chunks have been ripped off the sides for pan-and-scan.
The Region One release is in anamorphic widescreen, which the splendid settings did deserve.
The only extra feature is a widescreen non-anamorphic trailer in reasonable condition of Big Fish.