With plenty at stake in the story, the Netflix film will keep viewers on tenterhooks as it travels further into an expansive hole of mythology.
This review of the Netflix film New Gods: Nezha Reborn contains no spoilers — the animated movie was released on the streaming service on April 12, 2021.
The noteworthy point is that it’s clear that New Gods: Nezha Reborn fits part of a wider universe — director Ji Zhao has instilled richness in the world, where viewers will be overawed by the detail as much as the story (rumours of the second-film title is also making the news). The richness and quality drew me in, as I know little of the Chinese myth, so my experiences were mostly first-hand. Donghai’s hustle and bustle are admirable — it feels busy and how a city should be, and the animation and sound gets that perspective across impressively.
Following the character Li Yunxiang, Netflix’s New Gods: Nezha Reborn presents a story in mythical Donghai, dubbed a melting pot of Gods and people from different backgrounds. Li Yunxiang presents himself as a young moody man that enjoys motorcycle racing while socialising with his loyal sidekick Kasha. Eventually, our lead character learns that he is the reincarnated Nezha, a fiery and firey daredevil from 3,000 years ago when the war with Gods last happened. His life suddenly changes, and it becomes an in-depth tail of mythology and fear for the future of the world.
There’s plenty of exposition in the film — it’s clear that writer Muchuan was desperate to get the story across. It’s perhaps a little overegged with explanation — it’s not offputting for the viewer, but the need to provide richness to the narrative sticks out like a sore thumb. However, with good direction, there’s an easy rhythm that drives the film — audiences will always feel like they are embarking on an adventure into the unknown coupled with exciting fight scenes for good measure.
Running at the two-hour mark, New Gods: Nezha Reborn justifies the runtime — it’s not like it doesn’t have plenty to say, and the encouraging detail in the animation makes the viewer want to stay. It’s also helpful that the lead character Yunxiang Li/ Nezha has a personality — it’s not just the propping up of a God — he has family, friends and a love interest.
With plenty at stake in the story, the Netflix film will keep viewers on tenterhooks as it travels further into an expansive hole of mythology — let’s hope that New Gods: Nezha Reborn is the start of an all-consuming and thrilling Universe.