Nobody should mess with Blanca: the white snake demon is a deadly enemy, which is why she is often used as an assassin. But her attack on the general fails, she only manages to escape and to safety in a village with extreme hardship – but in the process loses her memory. This is dangerous, because this village of all places specializes in catching snakes. Nobody suspects that she is also a snake, as she is traveling in the form of a beautiful young woman. So beautiful that the unsuspecting Xuan falls in love with her…
Chinese history is not necessarily poor in legends and sagas, at least in oral form the mythology of the Middle Kingdom goes back several thousand years. One of the few that is more well-known in the West is the one around a white snake who illegally falls in love with a person. This legend was first written about 400 years ago. Rather, it is the various adaptations for cinema and television that have ensured that international attention has also been drawn to them – for example the anime Tale of a White Snake (1958) and the martial arts spectacle The Legend of the White Snake (2011) with Jet Li.
Now it is again an animated film that invites us on a trip to ancient China. However, it is more modern than the last few times. For example, screenwriter Damao added a talking dog, after all, every good animation blockbuster needs animal sidekicks for the little ones. It is Whitesnake actually not that crazy kid friendly. Even if the film tries every now and then to loosen up the mood with a bit of humor, it is rather gloomy what is happening here. The demons in particular, but also the aforementioned general, are more the stuff of nightmares than cozy family entertainment.
The many opponents who are involved here – the lovers will of course get caught between the fronts – can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. White Snake is so busy making the story bigger and more epic that the heart of the story, the relationship, comes a little short. But it also creates tension. The contribution from the Chinese Film Festival Munich 2019 and the Fantasy Film Festival 2019 is a spectacle in which something is constantly happening, everything is very large and powerful, and in the end there is also strong fighting.
That looks impressive, especially for an animated film from China. In the meantime, the country has discovered its love for this medium, but has so far produced little that is worth mentioning. Light Chaser Animation is still one of the most prominent studios in this respect and has already produced several feature films. But only with this one could they ensure that the Far Eastern great power is also noticed in this area. The animations themselves are not outstanding, many figures lack the necessary heaviness. But this is also widespread in Western CGI films and also fits in a bit with the Chinese martial arts tradition, which never adhered to the laws of physics.
The highlights of White Snake are the fantastic landscapes. When we stroll through nature with Blanca and Xuan, pass wide lakes, majestic mountains or even forests, then it is more than impressive. And the designs are also unusual, combining Western standards with Asian features. Especially the world of demons is quite impressive. Animation fans and lovers of Far Eastern culture have enough reasons here to travel into the fictional past together with the two of them. But the rest can also try the romantic, slightly pathos-prone adventure.
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