FILM

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

Why #AlitaSequel is trending nationwide.

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.

But while alt-right reactionaries have mostly moved past Captain Marvel on to fresher targets (read: whatever hurt their feelings this week), serious Battle Angel Alita fans, who call themselves Alita Army, have remained steadfast in their support of the franchise. And now that Disney has officially acquired 21st Century Fox, Alita Army is rallying for a sequel.

Alita Battle Angel Disney/20th Century Fox

The desire for a sequel isn't arbitrary. The Battle Angel Alita manga ran for nine total volumes from 1990 to 1995. Alita: Battle Angel only covers the events of the first two, setting up the series' fascinating cyberpunk future but obviously leaving a whole lot more for the narrative to accomplish in future installments. Assuming someone liked Alita: Battle Angel and knew what the manga held in store, there would literally be no reason for them not to want a sequel.

Jon Landau, who produced Alita alongside James Cameron, added fuel to the fire during an interview with CinemaBlend, telling fans, "What I think the Alita Army should do is keep peppering our family now at Disney and [let them know] how important it is to have another Alita movie and hopefully we'll venture there one day."

The Alita Army makes their wishes clear through the #AlitaSequel hashtag, and on glorious days you can see it trend nationwide on Twitter.



The fans have a point. Rosa Salazar did an incredible job as Alita, and we can always use more great, female-centric action movies. So while it's impossible to say whether or not Disney will listen to fans' demands, if they do choose to continue the franchise, there certainly seems to be a market of ready and willing consumers.

Culture Feature

Drew Brees Exemplifies How NOT to Be a White Ally

The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.

Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."

This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.


Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality


Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.

But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?

Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?

When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.

After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.


Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.

Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.

Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.

For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.

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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