FILM

Why the Internet Really Wants a "Battle Angel Alita" Sequel

Why everybody wants a #AlitaSequel.

Disney/20th Century Fox

Alita: Battle Angel—the James Cameron-produced, Robert Rodriguez-directed, American live-action movie based on the Japanese Battle Angel Alita manga–got the short end of the stick, culturally speaking.

While critics' reviews were mixed (our reviewer loved it), the movies' slick animation and compelling world building earned it a dedicated fanbase and a reputation as one of the only good American adaptations of an anime or manga franchise. Unfortunately, a number of supposed Battle Angel Alita fans also seemed to have an ulterior motive, using the movie as fuel for their alt-right crusade against Captain Marvel. These actions likely derived from a very small minority of the Alita fandom, but ultimately lead Battle Angel Alita to become viewed as "a right-wing alternative to Captain Marvel"––a frankly unfair categorization for a female-centric action movie with a Latinx star.

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Film Reviews

"Alita: Battle Angel" Meets All the Hype and Is Worth Your Money

Deadly mercenaries, David-and-Goliath robot fights, and a bit of romance—what more could you want from a big-budget sci-fi movie?

Geektyrant

No one knew anything about Alita: Battle Angel when the teaser first dropped in late 2017, but this is apparently a project James Cameron has been planning since as early as 2000. Was it worth the wait?

Answer: heck yes.

Slashfilm

Set five hundred years in the future, Dr. Dyson Ido (played by Christoph Waltz) finds a disembodied cyborg in a scrapyard with a human brain inside. He takes the cyborg home and rebuilds her, finding when she awakens that she has no memory of who she was before. As Alita learns to navigate her new life, Ido makes efforts to shield her from her mysterious past.

Rosa Salazar (Birdbox) plays the naive young cyborg, a dynamic character who mixes intense enthusiasm with youthful lightheartedness. Alita, while talking to Hugh, her human love interest opens her mechanical chest and pulls out a beating metal heart, telling him she'd literally give it to him if he wanted. When he tells her she doesn't have to do that, she puts it back. There's an awkward pause. Then, in a moment of levity, she breaks into a smile and goes: "Woo! That was intense, huh?"

The story gets a little confusing in the middle, mainly because there's so much world building that gets dumped on us. Fans will be pleased that the plot and characters stay true to the source material, but for newer viewers it might seem convoluted. Still, if you're interested in Alita's journey, you'll be able to forgive the exposition—there are plenty of robot brawls to make up for it.

When you see Alita for the first time, you'll notice how seamless and effective the computer-generated effects are. She's supposed to be a cyborg, something that resembles a human but isn't 100% there, so the Uncanny Valley effect actually helps the narrative. When we're watching her move through the scenes alongside Christoph Waltz and Jennifer Connelly, she doesn't look out of place or distracting.

Speaking of Jennifer Connelly, she does a pretty alright job. The same goes for Mahershala Ali, who is pretty much just playing himself. Honorable mentions go to Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and Lana Condor, who do a phenomenal job as the BFF sidekicks. It's a rarity to see side characters in an action movie give such honest performances. Look out for them.

Twitter

The most unexpected thing in the entire movie, however, is that Christoph Waltz feels surprisingly miscast. Waltz's iconically pedantic speech pattern clashes with his role as a nurturing and protective father figure. His performance is genuine, and the chemistry between his character and Alita is convincing, but he comes off more like a stiff professor than a warm parent.

In a film like this, the acting can only be as good as the writing, which is pleasantly competent. James Cameron, who wrote the original script, manages to pack dense world-building with lots of believable character development. It runs into some pacing hiccups just past the halfway point, but if you can ignore the fake-out endings you'll be satisfied with the sequel bait at the very end.

The New York Times

That being said, this movie feels like it needed to be at least an hour longer. There are so many elements that get very small amounts of screen-time but carry a lot of heft in the overall narrative. The great war that plunged the city into ruin, the last sky-city of Zolem and its impact on the surface world, and what the heck happens to the food Alita eats if she has a robot body? Does she have a mechanical digestive system? These are things that could have been fleshed out, so here's hoping for an extended edition when the blu-ray drops.

Overall, this film is brimming with action and computer-generated spectacles, featuring arguably the best special effects since Avatar. It's got heart, and doesn't compromise on characters and story. Watch it on the biggest screen you can afford to. You won't be disappointed.

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡


Ahmed Ashour is a media writer, tech enthusiast, and college student. He has a Twitter: @aahsure


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Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

Spice up your Valentine's Day weekend by watching a movie alone in the darkness of a theater.

WIDE RELEASE:

Happy Death Day 2U

Happy Death Day 2U - Official Trailer 2 (HD) www.youtube.com

The first Happy Death Day was a Ground Hog Day inspired slasher following a college co-ed trying to discover the identity of the masked man who murders her every evening. It was a box office smash, and way more fun than it had any right to be. The movie wrapped up nicely and the premise didn't seem to lend itself to a sequel, but it would have been financially irresponsible if they didn't try to milk that cash cow. So here's the sequel. The co-ed is back. The killer is back. This time they're in a parallel universe. It sounds stupid, but just like the first one, it's ridiculously fun.

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel | Official Trailer – Battle Ready [HD] | 20th Century FOX www.youtube.com

Based on the acclaimed cyberpunk manga, Gunnm by Yukito Kishiro, Alita: Battle Angel is yet another entry into the recent stream of Japanese titles being adapted into Hollywood blockbusters. So far, they have all paled in comparison to their source material and many have been called out for whitewashing the characters. Alita producer Jon Landau claims there is no whitewashing in his movie, but that's hard to believe when Christoph Waltz is playing a character named "Daisuke Ido." The animation sure looks pretty though.

Isn't It Romantic

Isn't It Romantic Trailer #1 (2019) | Movieclips Traliers www.youtube.com

Isn't It Romantic stars the always amazing Rebel Wilson as a single New Yorker who, after getting knocked unconscious, wakes up in a rom-com universe. Now, Wilson needs to avoid the cliches and actually fall in love if she ever wants to return to real life. It's a fun, satirical take on the genre that skewers conventions. If you're a fan of rom-coms there's a lot to enjoy, and even if you're not, well, that's kind of the point.

Fighting with My Family

FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY | Official Trailer | MGM www.youtube.com

Fighting with My Family is the semi-true story of WWE superstar Paige. The movie follows the journey of two siblings, Paige and Zak, as they grow up in a wrestling-obsessed household. Both aim to join the WWE, so when they have the chance to audition (and meet Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), it's a dream come true. But only Paige makes it. Zak does not. This, in turn, causes strife amongst the family. For a movie about wrestling, Fighting with My Family packs a surprisingly emotional punch.

LIMITED RELEASE:

Birds of Passage

BIRDS OF PASSAGE (2018) | Official US Trailer HD www.youtube.com

A Spanish language crime film selected to headline the Directors' Fortnight section at Cannes Film Festival in 2018, Birds of Passage has been favorably compared to The Godfather and Scarface. Set in the late 60s and 70s, the movie chronicles an indigenous Wayuu family embroiled in the early Colombian drug trade. Masterfully told across five "chapters," Birds of Passage feels like a true epic.


Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com



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Film Lists

7 Movies to Look Forward to in 2019 (That Aren't from Comic Books)

Look, "Pokémon: Detective Pikachu" looks like it could be really, really bad; but a true pokemon fan shouldn't care at this point.

From new seasons of binge-worthy favorites to horrible reboots of reality TV, 2019 will bring some of our dreams and nightmares to the small screen.

On the silver screen, this year will bring a record-breaking number of superhero movies to theaters. But a windfall of new features from masterminds like James Cameron, M. Night Shyamalan, and J.J. Abrams are also slated for release. Here are seven upcoming films on which to pin all your hopes for the future of cinema:

1. Alita: Battle Angel

Empire

Release date: February 14

Most of America had probably never heard of Alita: Battle Angel before the teaser trailer dropped a little over a year ago, but heck, the visuals look darn good. Apparently this film has been a passion project of James Cameron's for years, as the director first announced it was going into development in 2003. The movie was held up due to Cameron's work on Avatar, and after proving his talent with some impressive rewrites, the reigns were handed to action film auteur Robert Rodriguez. This movie looks like an epic cyberpunk sci-fi classic in the making.

2. Us

EW

Release date: March 22

Get Out was a perfect horror movie, and no one saw it coming. Us gives us the return of Jordan Peele as writer and director, and this time we're ready for it from the get-go. The trailer is a work of marketing genius, notably taking the Northern California hip-hop classic by Luniz, "I Got 5 On It," and weaving it into a haunting, ambient backdrop. The twist of the film seems to have already been revealed in all of the trailers, but for brevity: a family moves to a new beachfront home in California and are soon visited by shadowy figures. The film seems more like a straight-forward slasher film than the psychologically stimulating Get Out, and everyone should be pumped.

US Trailer (2019) www.youtube.com


3. Glass

Universal Pictures

Release date: January 18

Okay, okay, so this is kind of a comic book movie—but not really! M. Night made these guys up all on his own, and as a sequel to his beloved sleeper-hit Unbreakable and Split, we should all be excited. It's uncharted territory for both the fans and M. Night himself, so we're all in this together. The trailers have been hyping the movie for months, and the cast is brimming with fan favorites, like the unparalleled Sarah Paulson, the ghoulishly talented James McAvoy, and the legend himself, Samuel L. Jackson. Oh, and Bruce Willis looks like he'll be in this too, but who knows if he'll be acting, or just kind of…there. Check out the trailer below.

4. Star Wars IX

Disney

Release date: December 20

Can the Star Wars sequel trilogy be redeemed from the abysmal fan response to The Last Jedi? Well, Disney scrapped the underdog director strategy and put the King of Cliffhangers, JJ Abrams, back in the saddle, so at least we know we're going to get something we're used to. Promotional material for this final chapter in the trilogy has been sparse, and the beloved main characters from the original trilogy are effectively un-reprisable. At this point, the fans are all just wondering what could possibly be next. Well, one bit of good news is we're getting the original Lando back!

5. Pet Sematary

Paramount Pictures

Release date: April 5

Of all the horror movies that have been rebooted in the last 10 years, none has better deserved a revamp than Pet Sematary. The remake looks dark, eerie, chilling, and refined. From the trailer, Jason Clarke seems to bring a much more nuanced approach to the character of Louis Creed, and it also looks like they've done away with the distasteful element of the "ancient Indian burial ground." As far as horror movie remakes go, this one looks like it's worth the facelift.

Pet Sematary (2019)- Official Trailer- Paramount Pictures www.youtube.com


6. Godzilla: King of Monsters

Warner Brothers

Release date: May 31

Alright, almost everyone in America was monstrously disappointed by the 2014 Godzilla reboot. The pacing was sluggish, and we didn't get any of that sweet, sweet Godzilla action until the last 15 minutes of the movie. Well, the producers at Warner Brothers heard our pleas and answered with Godzilla: King of Monsters. With two trailers promising epic monster brawls and dramatic existential conflicts, both the hardcore and casual Godzilla fan should be excited.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters - Official Trailer 2 - In Theaters May 31 www.youtube.com

7. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Warner Brothers

Release date: May 10

If you were born in the 90's and had a halfway decent childhood, odds are you played a lot of Pokemon growing up. For us now-adult poke-fans, the idea of a live-action, feature-length film starring our favorite magical monsters seemed to be relegated to the world of cheap but excellent fanfiction. But no more. Our dreams have been made real, with the confusing (and potentially disastrous) casting of Ryan Reynolds as everyone's favorite electric mouse, Pikachu. It looks like it could be really, really bad; but a true pokemon fan shouldn't care at this point. We just want to see Pokemon in the real world - if we have to suffer through Reynold's annoying yammering for an hour and a half, so be it.

POKEMON Detective Pikachu Trailer (2019) www.youtube.com


Ahmed is a media writer, tech enthusiast, and college student. He has a Twitter: @aahsure


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