Film Review: ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (USA 2019) ***

Alita: Battle Angel Poster
Trailer

A deactivated female cyborg is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.

Director:

Robert Rodriguez

Writers:

James Cameron (screenplay by), Laeta Kalogridis (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »

Not really looking forward to this Hollywood extravaganza, ALITA:BATTLE ANGEL turns out not too bad, aided by its awesome looking futuristic setting of a junkyard metropolis after a devastated War.  The city looks like an overcrowded India with Zalem another city hanging over it.  

The film is based on a manga graphic series which usually spells trouble in the narrative department.  But the script is written by no less than AVATAR helmer James Cameron with Laeta Kalogridis blending in some action and romance to bring in females into the target audience in what is essentially a male movie despite its female protagonist.                                                                                                                                                        The film’s setting is the year 2562 after a huge war referred to as ‘the fall’ has destroyed Earth.  All the inhabitants of the planet has settled into Iron City.  At the film’s start,  Cyborg scientist Dr. Dyson Ido (Oscar Winner Christoph Waltz) discovers a disembodied female cyborg with a fully intact human brain.  Ido rebuilds the cyborg and names her Alita (Rosa Salazar) complete with doll face looking a bit like Cameron’s AVATAR creatures).                                                                                                                                  As the film progresses, Alita and the audience learn more of what’s happened to Earth.  Warrior hunters are brought in.  Ido is revealed to be one of them.  Alita falls in love with a human named Hugo.  Hugo has the dream of entering the sky city of Zalem, that stands like a kind of Utopian heaven.  There is also a violent game of motorball (reminiscent of ROLLERBALL) that Alita has some talent for.  Alita also discovers her past and her exceptional fighting capabilities..The story’s villains are Vector and Nova played by Mahershala Ali and Edward Norton respectively, each taking their role tongue-in-cheek as if not to laugh uncontrollably. Christoph Watlz gets a break from playing a baddie, which one would think must’ve pleased him.  At theToronto International Film Festival press conference for DOWNSIZING,  Waltz was questioned by a journalist if he faced a problem with all those baddie roles.  Waltz was visibly upset and replied maybe that was the journalist’s problem.  Waltz plays the role of an eccentric father this time around.  Jennifer Connolly plays his sympathetic ex, Shiren.                         The story is nothing special, understandable since it is based on a manga graphic novel.  What makes up for it is the well orchestrated fight scenes and the motor ball sports matches even though it looks as if they were taken right out of ROLLERBALL.                                                                                                                         The climax includes a segment where Alita and Hugo are on a gigantic tube that connects Iron City to the high city Zalem.  Hugo climbs the tune up to Zalem.  It is a spectacular sight (looking more spectacular if viewed in 3-D IMAX, high I was fortunate enough to see the film in).  One really ridiculous looking scene has Alita holding Hugo’s hand as he hangs for dear life after falling.  Trouble is that only his torso is left, as he was repaired as a cyborg.  Seeing Alita trying to save a torso looks really funny though that cliff having suspenseful scene was taken quite seriously by the audience at the screening I attended.                                                                 ALITA ends up not the best of Rodriguez and Cameron’s efforts but still an entertaining one for all the corny manga story is worth.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7pYhpJaJW8

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Film Review: THE DEATH CURE (USA 2018)

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure Poster
Trailer

Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare”.

Director:

Wes Ball

Writers:

T.S. Nowlin (screenplay by), James Dashner (based upon the novel “The Death Cure” by)

 

The last of the trilogy of MAZE RUNNER films, though advertised as MAZE RUNNER: DEATH CURE, the opening credits list the film as THE DEATH CURE.  Obviously so, as there is no maze in this film or in the second film either.  

The film opens with a special effects ridden train hijack, by trucks and hidden hijackers though attacked by manned and armed drone-like flyers.  Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar) chasing down a WCKD train holding a group of immunes, including Minho (Ki Hong Lee), the one they aim to rescue.  They are chased by a Berg, which lets Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and Vince (Barry Pepper) arrive, blowing up the connector rail that connects the train cars together.  Brenda and Jorge get help from Frypan (Dexter Darden) before hijacking the Berg and return to the train, pulling the carriage full of immune with them, and Thomas, Vince and Newt (Thomas Brodie-Snagster) aboard.

They arrive at the rebel base only to discover Minho was in another carriage, yet they managed to free numerous immunes.  At WCKD’s headquarters, they perform numerous tests on Minho to extract a serum from him.  

  The thing that is supposed to make much sense is that the immunes have it in their blood to produce a vaccine that will eve the world, or they turn into zombie-like beings.  Yes, nothing much else is expected story-wise either, despite the fact that each film in the trilogy is based on a book.

The film’s main character in THE DEATH CURE and in the other 2 films is Thomas (Dylan O’Brien).  Other characters like his love interest Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and best mate Newt are also present.  As fights go, it is difficult to get excited at whether a character survives or dies as two dead characters in THE MAZE RUNNER (the first film) who are supposed to be dead are miraculously resurrected for no good reason.  One is Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson), the Head of WCKD who shot herself in the first film.  The other is Gally (Will Poulter) who is speared by Minho.  Gally and Minho are both friendlier in this film.  The film also introduces a few new characters, all none too exciting except for Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito).  The villain of the piece is Janson (Aidan Gillen) who is given a chance to fight Thomas, the hero at the film’s climax.

The film runs too long at 2 hours and 20 minutes.  The film definitely could have been shortened as it seems that the story is made up as it goes along.  The special effects are impressive but that is no reason to go see a movie for.  This is director Ball’s third film in the MAZE RUNNER trilogy and one would think he would have improved with his final entry in the franchise.

The first MAZE RUNNER cost $34 million to make, grossing $384 million while the second $61 million to make and grossing $312 million.  This final one cost a whopping $83 million to make, is the lengthiest and the most boring of the lot.  It should cover costs but profits will be tough to beat!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_9OSktlm6s

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