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Random Thoughts: Alita: Battle Angel 3D, or It Is Possible To Fall In Love With a Robot

"Let's see them boob–URK!"

•I love Japanese manga. True, I haven’t read that much; just a handful, maybe. But that’s only because of the scarcity of mangas when I was growing up. Apparently, manga has a wealth of material that can be translated into cinematic narratives, and Hollywood hasn’t even begun to tap into that potential yet.

•These Mexicans are really good filmmakers. Let me run down a few names here: Del Toro. Cuarón. Iñárritu. Okay, wait… Apparently, director Robert Rodriguez is Mexican-American. Still, there’s Mexican blood in there. Why are these Mexicans such good visual storytellers?

•Okay, so James Cameron produced this film. Great. I mean, Cameron might be a bit lacking in the narrative aspect of his films to elevate them into cinematic masterpieces. But the guy knows his craft. The guy knows filmmaking. From the technical to the technological, the guy knows everything about film. Which is why I can’t wait for the Avatar sequels.

•All right, so this is actually one of the very, very few films this year (and these past few years) that was actually shot on native 3D (meaning actual stereo 3D, using two cameras). One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that real 3D seems a bit mild, unlike converted 3D, which tends to pop out exaggeratedly. The reason for this is that with converted 3D, the stereographers have more control over the elements, so they can choose which element they want to bring to the fore and which they want to subdue. With native 3D, the lens separation happens during filming, leaving the stereographer with very little room to manipulate the stereo effect.

•Andy Serkis used to be the king of motion capture acting. Well, maybe not the king, but he was Hollywood’s go-to guy after showing us what motion capture can do with his performance as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies. Even during 2013’s Tintin, Serkis still outperformed everybody. Now, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Did you know it’s called “performance capture” now? They don’t just capture an actor’s body movements, now they can capture even an actor’s facial expressions. Although I think there are two possible reasons why Alita’s facial expressions look so realistic: 1) Rosa Salazar, aside from being a good actress, is also a very talented performance capture artist; or 2) the technology has advanced so much to the point that even regular actors can be as good as Andy Serkis was ten years ago.

•My god, Weta is awesome. They were already awesome since The Lord of the Rings, but now they’re even more awesome. I can’t think of a word better than awesome, but if there was such a word, Weta would be that. The special effects in this film are just so flawless. I’m pretty sure Weta would be the ones handling the Avatar sequels, and I’m just really excited to see how good the technology would be by that time.

•Okay, so I guess it is possible to fall in love with a robot. I used to be very vocal about my opposition to any form of human-robot romantic relations, even if it was with the formless artificial intelligence in 2013’s Her. But Alita: Battle Angel seems to have shown me that I shouldn’t speak with finality, because it is possible. Take Alita, for example. Sure, she’s got huge eyes, but you’d get past that after a bit. Alita had me with her smile. Why did the filmmakers have to make her so photorealistic? Damn you, Weta.

Yoga with Adrienne Alita

Alita Battle Angel. USA. 2019.

Original rating: 8/10
Christoph Waltz: +0.1
Jennifer Connelly: +0.1
Mahershala Ali: +0.1
Character designs: +0.1
Final rating: 8.4/10


Review: Glass, or 3 Reasons to Go See This

"Could you guys compress a little to the center? Thanks."

I know I’ve said this a lot of times already, but let me just set the record straight: I’ve never left Team Shyamalan.

I’ve always been a fan of M. Night Shyamalan. I’ve never left his side. Sure, he had misses, but he also had hits. Although The Village will still be my favourite Shyamalan flick, I’ve never fed the hate and vitriol directed at him when he came out with the live action adaptation of The Last Airbender. Yeah, it wasn’t great, but let’s face it, it wasn’t horrible either. It was just… not that good. Compared to his body of work, that is.

But wait, this isn’t an article to defend Mr. Shyamalan. This is supposed to be a review of his latest film Glass. So here are three reasons why Glass is something worth watching.

It’s the conclusion to Shyamalan’s trilogy you never knew existed.
Let’s be honest here: How many of you knew when you watched Unbreakable back in 2000 that it would have a sequel? Nobody did. And when Split hit the theaters in 2016, how many of you figured out it happens in the same universe as Unbreakable before seeing Bruce Willis show up in the end? Again, nobody did – except Shyamalan, of course. The director really intended James McAvoy’s character to appear in Unbreakable, but had to cut him out. So Split can be considered a kind of spin-off in that sense. And thank God Shyamalan decided to give us Glass. We all love superhero flicks, and anything that doesn’t resemble a Marvel or a DC flick is a welcome treat indeed.

It’s a superhero flick that doesn’t seem like a superhero flick.
Honestly, this isn’t the best example of “a superhero flick that doesn’t seem like a superhero flick” – that distinction still belongs to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. But in Nolan’s context, that means being grounded in reality, which works for the Batman universe because the characters there mostly don’t have super powers. In this universe, the characters do have superpowers: David Dunn (Bruce Willis) was unbreakable, meaning he had super strength; Elijah Price a.k.a. Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) had supervillain intelligence; and The Beast (James McAvoy) had, well, beast-like powers (I wouldn’t consider his multiple personalities as a superpower, because that’s more of a disorder). Yet despite the superpowers present, the director still tried to present this as grounded as possible, because the entire premise of the films is that superheroes walk among us, and the comic book characters are based on real-life people.

It’s got three great actors.
Okay, Bruce Willis isn’t really a great actor. He’s good, but I wouldn’t call him great. I wouldn’t say he’s mediocre. He’s good. Let’s leave it at that. Samuel L. Jackson I would say was great. He even had those little facial twitches going on, which kind of made his condition more authentic in a way. But the show-stealer here was James McAvoy. From the weight gain and body building he went through, to the meticulous character changes that had even Samuel L. Jackson stunned, to the veins popping out his neck, McAvoy deserved an acting award nomination at least for his performance here.

So, is this the end of this superhero series? It pretty much looks like it. Is M. Night Shyamalan going to venture into long form storytelling on the streaming platform? Maybe. But one thing’s sure: I am eagerly awaiting the day his next film hits theatres. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

"I'm still waiting for that Mace Windu origin story, Mr. Lucas Disney."

Glass. USA. 2019.

Original rating: 7.9/10
Sarah Paulson's annoying acting: -0.1
Using the same kid in Unbreakable: +0.1
Final rating: 7.9/10


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