5.5/10 Nominated for Best Documentary at this Sunday’s Academy Awards, “Ascension” takes a contemporary look at life for the average Chinese worker and highlights how Communism takes away individuality and replaces it with a worship to the company you work for. I definitely understand what director Jessica Kingdon was going for with this movie. By the end of the movie, I will even concede that she gets her point across. The problem with “Ascension” is that it would have been better suited as a documentary short film (those can be as long as roughly 50 minutes which would have been enough time to tell this same story) as opposed to a full length documentary. The entire first act (minus the opening scene) was incredibly boring and repetitive. While the first act shows factory workers assembling whatever it is they make (clothing, sex dolls, machinery, bottled water), the editing lets the scenes go on way too long. We don’t need a full half an hour of watching factory workers work. You could have shown the same factory workers in a third of the time and still gotten your point across. Even individual scenes/moments later on in the film seem unnecessary as if they could have been edited out but Kingdon leaves them in to pad the running time. While the movie does get better in the second and third acts, the first half an hour will probably have many viewers turning the movie off out of sheer boredom. Thankfully the rest of the movie actually shows employers training their staff and we see how workers are forced to abandon their own unique personality and exchange it for blind loyalty to those they serve. I will say that watching this made me extremely thankful to live in a free country like America and not in a Communist or Socialist country where you are at the mercy of anyone from your boss at work up to the top politicians in government. One touching moment even sees one of the Chinese girls remarking about how she wants to visit the United States, solely due to its freedom, something China obviously lacks, even if some of them won’t admit or acknowledge as much on camera. The score is well done and it was interesting to see how different jobs/careers treat their employees. You will feel sorry for the monotonous labor that workers do for little money and the bare minimum benefits. It is just a shame that Kingdon didn’t condense this into a 45-minute short film and cut out the boring long takes and unnecessary B roll footage that makes the movie feel way longer than it needs to be. While I still have one last nominated documentary to watch before Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, this one is the weakest of the four I’ve watched so far.

#FadeInChina / #MyKingdonForAHorse / #PutsTheWorkInArtwork / #SomewhereAlongTheAssemblyLine / #CrapAndTrade / #ComeHellOrShanghaiWater

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