Tag Archives: Comic Book

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

I knew I wouldn’t get on well with this. The trailer failed to get my juices flowing and I didn’t think I’d be able to get past the CGI’d central character, Alita (Rosa Salazar). In fact, Alita was the least distracting thing about the film and I have healthy respect for the way she’s animated.

Glynn really wanted to see and enjoy this, so with no expectation (on my part), we took Date Night to the Odeon. While this film wasn’t my favourite – and actually made me scoff a few times because it was so awkward – I enjoyed some of the spectacle. Everything is CGI’d to the hilt and it’s an impressive world built from scratch.

The year is 2563 and a world war know as “The Fall” has left the Earth devastated. We find ourselves in Iron City which is nothing more really than a massive junk yard. Times are tough here and it’s made all the more difficult by the looming sky city of Zalem, which is placed directly over Iron City.

The poor (fiscally and physically) residents of IC are overshadowed by the obscene wealth of Zalem every day of their lives. Some long to beg, steal or borrow their way up there by any means necessary. One day, cyborg scientist Dr. Dyson (Christoph Waltz) is scavenging an actual junk yard when he finds the healthy head and brain of a female cyborg. He brings her home, gives her a body and a heart – and names her “Alita”.

Alita quickly adapts to her new life but she has little recollection of where she came from. For all intents and purposes, she’s just a normal teenage girl who happens to be a cyborg. When she meets Hugo (Keean Johnson), he opens up her world view all the more. But Alita isn’t just a normal teenage girl and it soon becomes apparent that whatever she is, she’s a warrior. She has incredible survival instincts and is an expert in an ancient martial art.

This comes in handy when she finds out Dyson is moonlighting as a Hunter-Warrior (bounty hunter) and she gets to help him take down some lowly criminals.

Alas, this puts Alita on everyone’s map and not in a good way as she upsets the order of things, pissing off not only the criminal underworld but also the Hunter-Warrior community. All this runs alongside the national spectacle of Motorball, an all-consuming sport that everyone seems to love. Obviously she’s a natural at that too.

And there’s a helluva a lot more to it than that. The film looks good if you don’t mind suspending your disbelief for two hours. The action is satisfying too but it just doesn’t have much of a soul. When it comes down to it, Alita is the best character in it and I think it’s because of her enthusiasm. Both Mahershala Ali (as gang boss Vector) and Jennifer Connelly (as Dyson’s ex-wife Chiren) are wasted. Waltz seems to phone it in. Ed Skrein‘s shady Hunter-Warrior Zapan is horrible –  and the central teen romance is cringe-worthy AF.

While Alita has every right to the ordinary aspects of life, I could have done without the YA romance. Hugo is as terrible as Zapan and I didn’t care for him at all. But you know, as I type this I realise there’s more to like than dislike so maybe you’ll like it more than I did. It’s not a total disaster after all, just not my cup of tea.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Glass

Glass (2019)

*Minor spoilers*

I suspect one of the reasons I’m not that great at reviewing films is that I sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees. Rather than veering toward the difficult to please stance of most purists, I usually lap up most of what I’m given because I have such a bias towards the characters I love. It’s hard for me to be critical sometimes.

I loved Unbreakable (2000) so much. It’s part of my regular catalog of movies that never fail to make me feel something. Often I hear the criticism that it doesn’t have enough oomph but that to me is what makes it perfect. It takes the concept of heroes and villains, and humanises it. It’s my favourite of M. Night‘s canon without question.

Split (2016) was enjoyable, particularly when you consider James McAvoy‘s mind boggling performance(s) but where UB was low-key and moody, Split was turned all the way up to bonkers and seldom lets up. Glass is more of the same and honestly, it’s messy but I liked it.

I may be in the minority. I thought what they did was interesting, threw us more than one curve ball and satisfied me. I didn’t buy all of it and found myself a little irritated by some of the bits that seemed clumsily tacked on but you can’t win ’em all. I’m trying hard not to drop major spoiler here – one of the girls at work dropped a massive clanger in front of my colleague after she’d seen it and I’m still giggling/traumatised by the experience.

Let’s talk about what I did like. I loved coming back to David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and his now grown up son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark). Now co-running their own security company with David moonlighting as The Overseer (to name but a few of his publicly considered nicknames), the two stalk the police radio airwaves for potential trouble.

All this has lead to multiple newspaper articles about the mysterious rain slicker-wearing hero and the feds getting antsy about vigilante justice. Joseph warns his father to keep a low profile for a while but where’s the fun in that?

When he sniffs out a new ‘case’ – a quartet of missing cheerleaders at the hands of a very familiar character – he bites off way more than he can chew.

The trailer is very clear about what happens next so no surprises. Dennis (and friends) join David Dunn and one other blast from the past, the titular “First name: Mister. Last name: Glass” (Samuel L. Jackson) in some sort of institution, where Sarah Paulson‘s Dr. Ellie Staple is on hand to talk each of them out of their superhero delusions.

But nothing’s ever that simple and the result is… well, the more I think about it the more I like it. There’s action, there’s Mr Glass and there are conclusions drawn and connections made.

Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey Cook, the sympathetic protagonist from Split and she’s lovely. A somehow calming influence over The Beast and his twenty-plus disciples, she fights his corner and humanises him too. I must say James McEvoy seems to have refined his performance since Split and is the strongest character here. I expected to be blown away at the return of Glass and Dunn, but it’s Dennis & Co who kept me in.

From the sidelines there is strong support too from Joseph and from Mrs. Price (Mister Glass’ ma played by Charlayne Woodard), the trio of secondary characters who actually care about the outcome of our central trio. Which is more than can be said about the crew apparently taking care of them from here. Paulson doesn’t shine quite as much as she usually does and I’m guessing this is because her particular strand is my least favourite (and the flimsiest). I wonder what it might have been like had they been left to their own devices.

I’ve already said too much but I did enjoy the look, the performances and the way it all clicks into place. The institution setting is one of my favourites and the use of colour is eye-catching and effective.

Will there ever be more? Well, it is suggested that this could all go off on a tangent in years to come – I’m not sure I want to be part of it though. (Who the hell am I trying to kid?!).

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Five Tiny Film Reviews

These are the last five movies I watched in 2018 and have been too lazy to post about – with micro reviews:

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)

The film itself is fine but this is one of the weakest stories in the series (the first not written by Steig Larsson but David Lagercrantz). However, it does offer us a brand new Lisbeth Salander and that’s the real reason I rushed to see it. Claire Foy does a good job. I was curious about her ability to rock the look and she aces it, bringing her own grace to the character. Throw in some sweet Lakeith Stanfield action and a sadistic, vengeful little sister – and I enjoyed myself. Probably a little forgettable but I’m interested to see where this film might lead.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Creed II (2018)

Creed was amazing and this is good too, with strong performances all round. Tessa Thompson steals the show from everyone as the world’s most understanding girlfriend Bianca. If I were to pick on it I would say it’s a little heavy-handed on the sentimentality and the abrupt turn around at the end by Dolph Lundgren‘s Ivan Drago might be touching but it is a little barf-worthy. I didn’t hate it though and I’m always going to be there for Michael B. Jordan and any training montage he wants to share with me.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Aquaman (2018)

I’ve never been so aroused and pissed off at the same time. Unfortunately, while Jason Momoa may be the hottest human man on Earth, this film is a pile of steaming garbage and there’s no getting away from that. The dialogue is cheap, it’s light on laughs and is also boring in places, perhaps it’s biggest crime. It does have warrior sharks though so most of the rating I give is for them.

Back to the drawing board again, DC – or maybe given Patty Jenkins a call?

⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (2018)

Marvel, meanwhile knocks it out of the park again with this animated treat. Into the Spiderverse is fun, stylish and has a soundtrack to die for. While it’s silly in places, it works well and the blend of darkness and light works perfectly. My highlight is Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir but there’s excellent voice work from Brian Tyree HenryMahershala Ali and Hailee Steinfeld too.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

While this does border on just a little too saccharine for me (balloon scene particularly), it was magical in many ways. Emily Blunt rocks Poppins while bringing her own sarky tone to proceedings, the kids don’t make me want to punch them and Emily Mortimer is dreamy AF (as always). I don’t think I would have gone out of my way to see this if it hadn’t been just before Christmas but I’m glad I did. Is it as good as the original (as most people have asked)? Hard to say, I was never a Poppins purest (more of a Bedknobs & Broomsticks kinda girl) but it is a strong sequel. Definitely worth a watch if you’re not adverse to musicals and uber tweeness.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What have you been watching?