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Wednesday, 20 February 2019 13:53

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ fights the good fight

Considering the popularity of sci-fi/fantasy fare, you’d think that Hollywood would be better at adapting Japanese anime and manga for American audiences. However, whether it’s a cultural divide or an aesthetic difference or what have you, the undeniable appeal of those properties usually winds up getting lost in translation.

So when I started seeing ads for “Alita: Battle Angel,” I was skeptical. Based on Yukito Kushiro’s popular “Gunnm” manga from the early 1990s, it’s the sort of complex, thematically dense work that Hollywood has traditionally screwed up. Why would this time be any different?

But then I looked closer. It’s a marvelous collection of talent. You’ve got Robert Rodriguez, one of the best “genre” filmmakers of his generation, directing. Rodriguez also co-wrote the screenplay alongside Laeta Kalogridis and James Cameron – yes, that James Cameron – who also served as producer and has been moving this project forward for the better part of two decades. Oh, and there’s also an incredibly talented cast featuring far more Oscar winners and nominees than you might have anticipated for a seemingly straightforward sci-fi shoot-‘em-up.

Does it live up to that pedigree? Maybe not quite; there are some clarity issues regarding the storytelling and a few uncanny valley concerns regarding the CGI. However, there’s no disputing the vivid visual nature of the film; there are dynamic set pieces scattered throughout. And the performers all treat the material with due respect, resulting in nuanced and complex performances beyond the standard genre fare.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 05 December 2018 15:06

Great performances drive ‘Green Book’

On first glance, you might think that “Green Book” is fairly typical awards bait. It’s a movie about an unlikely relationship crossing racial divides in the 1960s, a story that can’t help but accrue nominations if it’s executed with the least bit of skill and finesse.

This film feels very much like a throwback, a movie inspired by real-life events that is content to be driven by the immense talent of its lead performers. And while one can argue that its treatment of race is simplistic in spots, it still offers up a few challenges. It is thoughtful and funny and heartbreaking; a hell of a compelling and emotionally engaging story.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 12:35

Celebrating cinema with the Academy Awards

Predicting the Oscar winners for 2017

Published in Cover Story

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