Movie Review: 'Aftershock'

Movie Review: 'Aftershock'

Summary: One of the top grossing films in China's history, Aftershock is set during the tragic earthquake of 1976 in Tangshan, which killed over 240,000 people.

Published November 8, 2010

Summary : One of the top grossing films in China's history, Aftershock is set during the tragic earthquake of 1976 in Tangshan, which killed over 240,000 people. After the disaster, a woman loses her husband, and her two children are trapped under rubble. Saving one child will crush the other, but she must choose  and eventually says, "Save my son." Her son is survives, and she thinks her daughter was killed. However, the daughter survives, adopted and the mother suffers her entire life with the aftershocks of this earthquake forever affecting her family.

Review : Aftershock is not just another disaster film. Unlike the ho-hum 2012 or the predictable end-of-the-world duds that are released at least twice a year, the drama directed by Feng Xiaogang , who has been praised as the Steven Spielberg of China, is packed with heart, regardless of your language or nationality. With gripping performances from unknown Chinese actors like Fan Xu and Zhang Jingchu , this is a must-see flick and is rumored to be in the running for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

Making history, it's the first commercial IMAX movie filmed outside of the United States. Therefore, the special effects are robust and at times decadent, which is always the case with CGI. However, the over-the-top affects are unnecessary for a film with such strong writing and character building. But, for attention deficit viewers, the CGI will satisfy the need for eye-popping visuals – this was probably a must to appeal to American audiences. Whatever the case, this proves that special effects are worthless without a solid storyline. Fortunately, Aftershock has that.

Considering the horrors of Haiti earlier this year, Aftershock is beyond relevant. The emotional trauma survivors experience after such a humongous disaster is the true recovery. At its core, Aftershock is a story of grief, family and forgiveness.  The movie comes mighty close to melodrama, but with its nuanced performances, each moment rips with cinematic humanity.

Chinese or American (although it is great to see diverse images on screen and this is a group that is underrepresented in Hollywood), this is a stellar movie. Don't be turned off by the subtitles; after only a few minutes the story resonates so strongly that reading text isn't an annoyance.

Aftershock is a fresh movie-going experience that people of all backgrounds can enjoy. Most beautifully, the flick honors those who lost loved ones in the tragic earthquake 34 years ago. This is not just a movie, but an appropriate memorial for such a sad moment in China's history.

Aftershock is in theaters nationwide now.

Written by Clay Cane

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