Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms” – A Mythic Odyssey Unveiled

In the realm of cinematic extravagance, Director Wuershan’s visionary interpretation of Xu Zhonglin’s 16th-century masterpiece, “Investiture of the Gods,” takes us on a mesmerizing journey teeming with gods, immortals, and armies, leaving no stone unturned. While the film boasts a tumultuous sea of highly variable CGI, its unique quirks undeniably distinguish it in the grand tapestry of mythological epics.

As we delve into the fantastical world, we find ourselves pondering the peculiar, as Jiang Ziya (Bo Huang) aptly remarks, “Strange things keep happening these days.” Indeed, from a woman’s eerie self-inflicted demise via a hatpin, followed by her possession by the spirit of a white fox, to the discovery of a gurgling, pistachio-colored demon baby in the heart of a mystical forest, and the conjuror capable of liberating his head from his body when threatened with decapitation, it’s safe to say that these are extraordinary times.

Jiang Ziya is one of three immortals entrusted with a formidable mission: to quell the looming Great Curse threatening the very foundation of the Shang dynasty. King Zhou (Kris Phillips), ensnared by the bewitching yet malevolent Su Daji (Naran), presides over a kingdom spiraling into chaos. The only glimmer of hope lies within the Fengshen Bang, an ancient artifact presented by Ziya himself. Its purpose? To anoint a new pantheon of gods and banish the curse once and for all. However, the unhinged king, driven by a thirst for power, discovers that the artifact feeds on human souls. In a chilling act, he sacrifices one of his own subjects to replenish its energy. Ziya seizes the artifact, embarking on a perilous journey into the untamed wilderness, relentlessly pursued by Prince Yin Jiao (Luke Chen), as gods and armies unleash pandemonium all around them.

Director Wuershan’s ambition knows no bounds, having sought counsel from the legendary Peter Jackson before embarking on this epic trilogy (with parts II and III looming on the horizon). James Schamus, co-writer of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” graces the credits as a script consultant. Despite these prestigious collaborations, the film does grapple with an unfortunate excess of CGI, sometimes wildly inconsistent, and an unremarkable, quasi-inspirational score that permeates nearly every scene.

Nevertheless, what sets this cinematic voyage apart is its collection of idiosyncrasies, ensuring its distinctiveness not only in contrast to the American superhero genre but also within the realm of previous adaptations of the same narrative, including the kitschy and cartoonish “League of Gods” from 2016, starring Jet Li.

Undoubtedly, the film’s standout performance comes from Ne Zha (Yafan Wu), an immortal child whose fiery hoops spin from his feet, showcasing a mesmerizing dexterity with ribbons that would captivate audiences around any maypole. It’s safe to say that this young prodigy deserves a film of his own.

In “Creation of the Gods I: Kingdom of Storms,” Director Wuershan crafts an enchanting tale of gods, immortals, and mortals entwined in a tumultuous struggle for power, redemption, and the very essence of their world. While the CGI may at times waver, the film’s uniqueness and moments of sheer brilliance promise an epic journey that cinephiles won’t soon forget. Stay tuned for the next installment of this captivating mythological saga.