Sugar and Spite (Alita Battle Angel, 2019)

Alita_Battle_Angel_PosterSet 300 years after all but one “sky city” fell to the earth, Dr. Dyson Ido finds the remains of a cyborg with a still functional human brain. In this future, cybernetic are a part of life, there are many that have cybernetic limbs.  Ido runs a clinic helping the people of the earthbound Iron City that is in the shadow of Zalem. He provides her with a body and when she awakens with no memories, he names her Alita.

Alita soon starts to make friends with locals and grow close to Ido as a parental figure. When she discovers she seems to have incredible combat skills and a bit of taste for action, Ido hopes to keep her from learning too much. Especially when she becomes interested in local boy Hugo. Alita is determined to learn who she is, but also finds that she is facing the threat of local crime lord Vector.

Visually, this is a pretty impressive film, which is not to unexpected from a Cameron connected film. Alita looks pretty lifelike, yet at the same time, her design includes eyes that are slightly too big.  This works for the character and sells that she has an artificial body, yet a very human brain beneath the shell.

On the other hand, there is one character design that just did not work for me, but the character is ion the scene for a very short time…so I cannot really be too bothered.

I really like the chemistry between Waltz and Salazar.  It is very sweet and feels much like a man who is finding a second chance at being a father for someone who may have lived a long time without the love of a parental figure.

The action is very easy to follow, even in high velocity sequences, I never found it confusing.  Again, I am not surprised as director Robert Rodriguez is a skilled director of action.

My biggest criticism is that it feels like that, since they knew they were trying to kick off a franchise, they spent most of the movie establishing there world, and the final half of the story was an afterthought.  It was as if they reached a point and realized they would have a six hour movie, but still needed a certain resolution for the first film. The final part of the film’s story just seems super rushed, including certain character’s arcs.

Alita Battle Angel is not a perfect film, but it is exciting and has some solid emotional beats (especially in the relationship of Ido and Alita).

The Hunter or the Hunted? Pt 9 (Predators, 2010)

PRED_B-ALT_Eng1sht (Page 1)After the second film, the Predator series went dormant.  The alien hunters only saw the screen in the “team up” Alien vs Predator films.  It was not until about 2009 Predator was announced as getting it’s own new film.  It was spearheaded by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn, Sin City) and was referred to often as a reboot.  The problem with the tendency to treat every film as a remake or reboot is that it is not always clear what a particular entry is.  These days, people tend to refer to a new film in a franchise as a reboot, even when it is in continuity.  Admittedly, it is a little unclear here.  Nothing discounts the previous two films, but they are not really acknowledge in reference (# 2 made reference to the first film).

It does however feature the original Predator design along with a much bigger and more aggressive version.

Anyways, whether this is a new start or simply a new installment is not that important.  What we have is a group of people who find themselves falling from the sky.  They apparently had not planned this themselves.  As things unfold, we find that the most common trait the group has is they are mercenaries, soldiers, mob enforcers and so on.  There is one odd man out named Edwin who is a doctor.  He seems meek (but very smart).  He is played by Topher Grace, so, you know something is up with him.  Adrien Brody plays mercenary Royce.  Royce takes on the role of defacto leader, convincing everyone they need to work together.

After encounters with strange animals, they start to try and find safety, only to realize they are not on earth.  Unlike the previous films, the people being hunted have been dropped onto a planet that functions as a big game hunting preserve.

This does make for an interesting idea, though it is basically a jungle like the first film.  The new Predator design is good, building off the previous design in a way that is sleeker and more threatening.  While the film strives to have lots of surprises, in the end, there is not much new here.  The humans are picked off by the predators in violent and bloody fights.  But it is pretty straight forward action, and pretty predictable.  Frankly, it feels like the franchise may have hit a wall, and truthfully, I don’t know that people will care all that much about it.  The second two films are not strong enough to pretend this is a trilogy.  It is just a decent action film followed by two okay sequels.

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