Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis, Robert Rodriguez (Screenplay) Yukito Kishiro (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Rosa Salazar, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Christoph Waltz, Lana Condor, Eiza Gonzalez, Ed Skrein, Keean Johnson

 

Plot: An action-packed story of one young woman’s journey to discover the truth of who she is and her fight to change the world.


Tagline – An Angel Falls. A Warrior Rises.

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visual Masterpiece

 

Story: Alita: Battle Angel starts in the 26th century, Dr Dyson Ido (Waltz) searching for scraps locates the remaining parts of a cyborg, who has come from the city sky, he rebuilds her naming her Alita (Salazar) and teaches her about the world. Alita wants to learn for herself which happens when she meets Hugo (Johnson) who shows him the city.

Vector (Ali) being controlled by the villainous Nova is always seeking the best fighters to send to the city above, which attracts him to Alita knowing her abilities will give him even more power. Alita must learn about her past to fight for her future to become the hero she was always meant to be.

 

Thoughts on Alita: Battle Angel

 

Characters – Alita is the name given to the battle angel, she is from an older technology, one nobody understands one from before the great Fall. She is programmed to be like a teenager learning about the world, eager to take chance, before she learns about her fighting abilities, which will see her fight to keep her freedom and for love. This is an amazingly strong character that shows just how much motivation can come from learning one’s power. Dr Dyson Ido repairs the cyborgs, he has a heart of gold willing to help many, but he has a haunted past which gives him a secret life that Alita wants to be part off. Vector runs the city, if you want to get to the sky city, you must go through him, he knows the desire to get there and plays everybody on the idea he can make it happen. Chiren is Dyson’s ex-wife, she wants to get back to the sky city and sides with Vector to make this happen. Hugo is the young man rebel that shows Alita the city, teaches her dreams and sport. He does go against what Alita believes he is, as he like many others is dreaming of getting to the sky city. Zapan is one of the hunter warriors, used as the police within the city, they are bounty hunters who will kill for credits, he is considered the deadliest of them all and clashes with Alita.

PerformancesRosa Salazar bursts onto the scene with this performance that even though the character does feel like it is CGI, manages to give emotion through every event she learns about. Christoph Waltz shines in the doctor role, he keeps everything calm which is what is required for his character. Mahershala Ali bring a calm demanding villain to the heart of this film which will show he isn’t the strongest, but the smartest. Jennifer Connelly has the largest amount to go through with her character, she gets the chance to show us that she is the real deal. Ed Skrein does seem to bring us his Ajax from Deadpool figure, which is fine, des what the film needs. Keean Johnson completes the main cast and work in his role well have strong chemistry with Salazar.

StoryThe story here follows a former warrior being bought back to life to learn of a new world that she wants to fight to bring down, while trying to learn about her past. Now, this does have source material, so I can’t say who did it first, but this does feel like a story we have seen before, an unlikely hero coming to save the day after being mentored by an older figure that wished to do the same thing himself, must overcome the odds and gain a following. This is a tried and tested story formula and it works very well with this one too. My big issue with the story comes from the time passage, certain things that happen seem to feel like they could be weeks or months, but they play out like days, only they can’t have been days, this is the biggest disappointment in the storytelling process.

Action/Adventure/Romance/Sci-FiThe action in this movie is amazing, we get fight scenes with each combatant seemingly having a different ability which opens the doors for all possibilities too. The adventure side of the film comes from following Alita as she learns about herself, the world and her place in it. When we get to the romance side of the film this could turn people off at times, but it does show how people would be willing to fight for their unconditional love for somebody. The sci-fi concepts in this film comes from the creations, both in world and the cyborgs involved, we see a future world completely different to our own too.

SettingsOnto the best parts of the film, the settings, the city created here is one of the best you will ever see in a sci-fi film, each individual part of the city seems to have details to make us truly believe we are there.

Special EffectsThe special effects are just breath-taking, nothing seems out of place in this world filled with cyborgs. Everything in this film will make you want to love cinema even more than you already do.


Scene of the Movie –
The world we enter is just breath-taking.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The nurse character, mostly because I felt we should have seen her do more (not the actress’s fault).

Final ThoughtsThis is easily going to be the best visual film you will see in 2019, it might have a by the book story, but you will be left wanting to see more and more of this character in her battles.

 

Overall: Experience this on the big screen.

Rating

 

 

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Downsizing (2017)

Director: Alexander Payne

Writer: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig, Rolf Lassgard, Ingjerd Edeberg

 

Plot: A social satire in which a man realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself to five inches tall, allowing him to live in wealth and splendor.

 


Tagline – We are meant for something bigger.

Runtime: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Quirky Comedy

 

Story: Downsizing starts as we enter a world where scientists have perfected the idea of shrinking people to help decrease the overpopulation problem the world will be facing, the experiment was a success and is now an option for people around the world.

10 years later the world has accepted downsizing with communities appear all over America, here we meet Paul (Damon) and his wife Audrey (Wiig) who have been struggling in the economic changes and after advice decide to go through with the procedure. Things don’t go as planned as Audrey backs out leaving Paul alone in this new environment Leisure Land.

After spending the first year alone in Leisure Land, Paul meets his carefree party animal upstairs neighbour Dusan (Waltz) who shows him a different side to life and how to enjoy his life once more which happens sooner than he thinks when he meets Nogc Lan Tran (Chau).

 

Thoughts on Downsizing

 

Characters – Paul is an average man with an average job, but a real problem with money in the real world, he turns to downsizing program where he can live a better life. There he finds himself alone until he learns about a bigger problem, which he sets out to try and help with. Dusan is the neighbour living in Leisure Land, he is carefree and shows Paul how to enjoy his time in this new environment. Ngoc Lan Tran is a refugee that gets handicapped in her escape becoming a cleaner in Leisure Land showing that not everyone in this land is rich, she helps Paul see a new meaning from life.

PerformancesMatt Damon is great in the leading role, he gives performance that is filled with confliction, confusion and in need of finding a purpose in life, it shows in each emotion that he shows us. Christoph Waltz is a lot of fun in his role where he sees him enjoying playing the carefree character. Hong Chau in wonderful in her role, she brings everything we need to see as Paul makes his decisions.

StoryThe story has plenty of social commentary going on, as we see how the real-world problems trying to be addressed in an alternative solution, in this case shrinking the population. We do see the classes being addressed in the same way regardless of size and how one big decision you can never go back from can leave you right where you were supposed to be. This story doesn’t go in the direction you would imagine but does play out well becoming a subject you don’t mind seeing the people watching.

Comedy/Sci-FiThe comedy hits the quirky level with ease and puts us into a world where this procedure is a possibility which checks of the sci-fi side of the story too.

SettingsThe settings show us just where the characters live have been, will go and how not everything is as it first appears.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well to make sure everything is scaled to the right size for the difference in the people involved.


Scene of the Movie –
Norway.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It goes on too long and the direction you wouldn’t expect.

Final ThoughtsThis is a quirky comedy that plans into the social commentary that will be looked at as we do tackle bigger issues in the world including over population.

 

Overall: Quirky and enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

 

Tulip Fever (2017)

Director: Justin Chadwick

Writer: Deborah Moggach, Tom Stoppard (Screenplay) Deborah Moggach (Novel)

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell, Holliday Grainger, Tom Hollander, Matthew Morrison, Christoph Waltz

 

Plot: An artist falls for a young married woman while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam.


Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fails to Blossom

 

Story: Tulip Fever starts in 1631 where Amsterdam is obsessed with tulips, we follow Sophia (Vikander) raised in an orphanage to womanhood where the rich Cornelis Sandvoort (Waltz) marries her to make sure he has an heir of his own. The story is told through the memories of Maria (Grainger) the maid of the household.

Cornelis wants to be remember and having trouble with having children he wants to have a painting of the two, he commissions upcoming artist Jan van Loos (DeHaan) for the work. When Sophia and Jan engage in a steamy affair their love blossoms and with the rest of Amsterdam becoming using their tulip obsession we see how the rich just get carried away with their outrageous bidding for the prized bulbs.

 

Thoughts on Tulip Fever

 

Characters – Sophie was raised in an orphanage to womanhood where she gets the chance to leave and marry one of the rich men of Amsterdam. She tries to give him a child, but they are struggling and it isn’t long before her heart belongs to another, an artist. Jan van Loos is the talented young artist commissioned to paint the Sandvoort’s, he soon strikes up a romance with Sophia as they both look to escape this world. Cornelis is the man Sophia marries, he is a kind man, brilliant businessman in the middle of the tulip obsessed Amsterdam. The characters show us just how obsessed the tulips can become desperate to make money from a bulb.

PerformancesThe film has wonderful performances from the whole cast, Alicia Vikander once again shows she is one if not the most talented actresses in the business. Dane DeHaan showed us just why he works better in these roles over a Valerian styled movie. Christoph Waltz continues he entry into a world of artists, where he can play the roles in period dramas. Even diving into the supporting cast, we have talent a plenty, with Jack O’Connell, Holliday Grainger and Judi Dench showing just why people always consider them people to watch.

StoryThe story follows us into the world of Amsterdam where the people are obsessed with the tulips, the different colours, styles and patterns which could make a fortune. We have a secret romance which uses the tulip obsession to try and keep everything a secret, sadly by the end you will fee like we are watching two films which don’t quite add up to the levels you would like. The story about the tulips did grab my attention and I would have loved to have seen more focus on this, while the affair is something we have seen before and done better before.

RomanceThe romantic side of the film comes from the secret affair Sophie is having, while also showing us the love Maria and Willem have through the good and bad moments.

SettingsThe setting created takes us back to the 1600s Amsterdam, nothing feels out of place as we see the hustle and bustle of the busy drink filled streets.


Scene of the Movie –
Tulip discovery.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The romance side is something we have seen before.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that does struggle to balance the two stories and strangely enough, it is Maria’s story which seems like it should be the main story over the Sophia one. It does have powerful performance, but it doesn’t use their talents well enough.

 

Overall: Solid period drama, showing the tulip obsession.

Rating

 

 

The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Director: David Yates

Writer: Adam Cozad, Craig Brewer (Screenplay) Edgar Rice Burroughs (Creator)

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou

 

Plot: Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easy to Watch but Nothing Memorable

 

Story: The Legend of Tarzan starts when Leon Rom (Waltz) goes in search of diamonds in African Congo for the king Leopold of Belgium. Making a deal with Chief Mbonga (Hounsou) which involves bringing John Clayton (Skarsgard) back to the Congo.

In England John Clayton has reclaimed his title and now is being convinced into return to Congo with American George Washington Williams (Jackson) as an open invitation for England to work on building relationships with Belgium.

John along with his wife Jane (Robbie) returns to Africa to guide George and along the way he gets to reconnect with his friends both human and animal, while remember how he came to be known as Tarzan.

When Leon’s plan comes together he kidnaps Jane using her as bait to capture Tarzan but Tarzan knowing the land better than anyone joins the tribe to hunt down Leon and his men. Along the way Tarzan learns of the bigger plan in motion and must save the animals and people who raised him.

 

Thoughts on The Legend of Tarzan

 

Characters/PerformanceJohn Clayton is known as Tarzan, raised in the jungle but now living his royal title in England. He must face his past by returning to Congo and save it from invasion. This is a different look at how you would imagine Tarzan not facing much of his animal side. Jane is the feisty wife of John or Tarzan that returns to the jungle using all her knowledge to survive once she is captured. George Washington Williams is the American trying to prove the plan of thee Belgium King and a killer shot. Leon Rom is the man leading the invasion upon the Congo, his character is slightly mixed for me, one minute he is a deadly military leader the next he comes off quirky.

Performance wise, Alexander does look the part of Tarzan but he doesn’t reach all the leaves of potential you feel Tarzan needs. Margot is good as we have come to expect from this star for many years to come, Sam Jackson does his usual, turns up in a film brings a few lines of intensity even in a supporting role. Waltz continues his trend of being a bland villain in big blockbuster movies, partly because of the character or maybe because of him, we never seem to see if he is over the top or calm.

StoryThe story looks at life after the legend of Tarzan, which I did think works because how many times can we do a Tarzan meets Jane. The story does also battle the idea of stopping slavery within a country and returning to face your past which Tarzan must do. This comes off a lot more serious that I think people would imagine by not having any light-hearted moments but then it does turn into what you would expect from it.

Action/AdventureThe action is all standard to what you would expect from a jungle based movie. The adventure does take on a travel across the country feeling which does work.

SettingsThe settings look nice when they are real but too many are green screens.

Special EffectsThe special effects are weak here because you can see green screen through most of the animal human scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at the Tarzan character but in the end we have seen most of this before.

 

Overall: Simple and Entertaining.

Rating

 

 

Milla Jovovich Weekend – The Three Musketeers (2011)

threeeDirector: Paul W S Anderson

Writer: Alex Litvak (Screenplay) Alexandra Dumas Pere (Novel)

Starring: Matthew Macfadyen, Milla Jovovich, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Til Schweiger, Orlando Bloom, Logan Lerman, Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz

 

Plot: The hot-headed young D’Artagnan along with three former legendary but now down on their luck Musketeers must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war.

 

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Forgettable

 

Story: The Three Musketeers starts by introducing us to the legendary Three Musketeer Athos (Macfadyen), Aramis (Evans) and Porthos (Stevenson) who work with Milady de Winter (Jovovich) to steal documents only to have her turn on them for the Duke of Buckingham (Bloom).

We go onto meet D’Artagnan (Lerman) a brass young swordsman who finds himself in trouble with the Three Musketeer, but with a common enemy in Rochefort (Mikkelsen) after they have lost their guidance. The Musketeers find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy to start the next great battle in Europe and have to use their skills to stop this from happening and save France.

The Three Musketeers is an overcomplicated take on what should just be a fun adventure, we have a big conspiracy going on with way too many characters to keep on top off where we just don’t get nearly enough time with the actual musketeers. Everyone seems to be going against each other in this one which just doesn’t reach any of the level of the 90s version.

As for the performances, the musketeers are nearly all forgettable, Waltz, Mikkelsen and Bloom are completely wasted in their roles and having nearly everything that happens revolve around Jovovich just adds to the confusion. The action is all what you would expect from Anderson that can be fun without being over the top.

 

Overall: This is just another poor rehash of the Musketeers story.

Ratingcard