Just saw the movie tonight! For those of you not familiar with the Qatsi Trilogy, take a look at the home page for films or this thread, this one, this one or this one. Non-spoiler review: Not as good as Koyaanisqatsi, but better than Powaqqatsi. The rest of this post is going to contain spoilers, so back out now, you weenies!
The first shot is of a painting entitled The Tower of Babel, don’t remember who the artist was. The film lingers over the image for a few moments and then cuts to an abandoned railway terminal in Detroit. The first few shots are classic Reggio, and are also the last shots in the film which have no visible traces visual effects. The rest of the film is made up of shots that are either entirely CG or heavily retouched by CG effects. This film has a much more “internal” feel than the others, with no large sweeping vistas for the most part. The effects are amazing however. One of the most dramatic is slow-motion over exposed black and white footage of a group of people having a conversation. The final shot of that sequence ends with a man kissing a woman on the nose, but because of the slow speed of the film, you’re unable to tell if he’s going to bite her nose off or not, until he plants the kiss.
I’ll admit that I’ve generally had to watch the other films multiple times before I got much of the symbolism behind them, but this film is easier to grasp in many parts without being heavy handed. In fact, much of the symbolism is so disturbing (as Reggio no doubt intended) without being heavy handed. The clips which reference Dolly the clone are particularly unsettling, even for a fan of cloning like myself. (They also reminded me of the cover art for a copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I saw once.)
A few of the shots are heavily FXed shots from the other movies in the Qatsi trilogy, which I think were used to tie the three films together. There are shots which are stylistically similar to some of the shots in the first movie, but their subject matter is different. This is also the first of the films to use shots taken on the Moon and in Earth orbit. (The one showing the view of the nose of the shuttle in Earth orbit is particularly stunning.)
One of the theme’s that the film seems to push is that modern devices help us to know more about humans, but the way they render the information makes it seem that you’re viewing something mechanical and not human at all.
I can’t see this film having the kind of impact that the first film has had, but it certainly will have some impact on the filmmaking community. If for no other reason than the Feng Shui director got a listing in the credits!
As for Glass’s soundtrack, I enjoyed this one much more than his Powaqqatsi one. This one had a much more martial feel to it. (Though I would have liked for the theater to have had the volume up a bit louder. I like feeling my internal organs rattling about when the “Qatsi” voice comes on. )
Finally, the end credits give you a bit more information as to where some of the footage was shot, which is nice.