Alita: Battle Angel and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Man, I don’t know the first thing about this series! Every time you find out about ONE legendary anime that defined the genre, there pops up another dozen or so that you need to catch up on as well, and I’m a busy guy! I don’t have time to catch up with the stuff I already need to; let alone this one that I’m only now aware of because the movie is coming out! Speaking of which, wasn’t this supposed to come out like a year ago? Granted, the amount of CG on display here is staggering and I can see even the SLIGHTEST hitch in post-production causing massive delays, but being a February burn off instead of summer blockbuster or even winding up in the post-summer slowdown period seems like a bad sign. I don’t know, this is clearly one of those movies that have SO much passion and resources behind them that it can either be a total masterpiece or a hilarious disaster with almost no chance for landing in-between. Are we talking Mad Max: Fury Road, or Battlefield Earth? In either case, we should strap in just to be on the safe side! Let’s find out!!
IN THE YEAR THREE THOUSAND (or some other far off date), the world has basically been reduced to two major cities, Iron City below and the sky city of Zalem above, after the devastation of THE FALL which was a big war hundreds of years ago. Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) is a robo-doctor (as in he fixes robots; not that he is himself a robotic doctor) who scavenges through the trash tossed down by Zalem for useable parts to keep his clinic open for those in need, but one day he finds far more than eh could have ever imagined! He finds the remnants of some kind of robot which he takes home and learns has a human brain as well as some other unique parts which he attaches to a spare robo-body he had lying around and brings her back to life; giving her the name Alita which no doubt has some significance we’ll learn about later on in the movie. Alita 9Rosa Salazar) has no memory of who she was before being tossed in the garbage which is sad to be sure, but the local badboy Hugo (Keean Johnson) as well as the totally rad sport of Motorball at least help to pass the time as she tries to find answers to her past. Well needless to say as the movie goes along, we find answers to more and more of these questions which lead to Alita being put in more and more danger as others discover who she is as well. Primarily, she starts getting pursued by the local kingpin Vector (Mahershala Ali) who has connections to everyone in town; including Dr. Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) who is helping him in exchange for a chance to reach the shiny city in the sky. Along the way she’ll make friends, encounter enemies, and even have to deal with insufferable douchebags like the robo-bounty hunter Zapan (Ed Skrein) who coincidentally seems to hold yet another piece to Alita’s past. Can Alita survive long enough in this harsh world to learn who she really is? Just how powerful is she, and how far will she go to protect those she cares about? Wait, so if she was built to be an ULTIMATE WARRIOR, why did they give her the brain of a teenager!?
The Dark Tower and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
2007. That’s when the first rumblings of this movie’s production started to surface which it’s been LANGUISHING in cinematic limbo for a decade now. Remember when Ron Howard was gonna turn the Dark Tower into a simultaneous Television/Film experience? I sure do! Now I love me some Stephen King, but The Dark Tower was one of those things that I just let pass me by and it seemed like for a while there that Hollywood was going to do the same, but Sony decided to take this ball and cross it over the finish line in whatever state it ultimately ended up in. With so much going against this movie, from the hit or miss nature of Stephen King films, the troubled production which included three directors working on this over its ten year gestation, to even the fact that releasing a high concept fantasy movie in the modern cinematic landscape that ISN’T tied to a comic book, video game, or eighties cartoon is pretty much flirting with disaster at this point, is it possible that a GOOD movie managed to come out of all that strife and discord? Let’s find out!!
Despite what the trailers may tell you, the movie is ACTUALLY about a boy named Jake (Tom Taylor) who’s waking up every morning in a cold sweat due to his recurring dream about a man in black (Matthew McConaughey) and his horrifying sciencey magical experiments on children in hopes of destroying some giant tower. A DARK tower, if you will! He’s drawing images of what he dreams about every day (presumably in hopes of winning an Eisner once he puts all the pieces together) which along with his less than stellar coping skills over the death of his father has made him somewhat ostracized at school and has his mother very concerned. Too bad for them that his stories about evil wizards, rat people wearing human skins, and dead children turn out to be COMPLETELY TRUE as he finds a portal to another world where all this very odd stuff is happening. Gee, a misunderstood creative type who gets proven right in a Stephen King story!? WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT!? Anyway, from there he meets up with the GOOD GUY in his graphic novel who is Roland; THE LAST GUNSLINGER (Idris Elba). Now Roland wants to put a few right between The Man in Black’s icy blues eyes (mostly due to the whole making him THE LAST GUNSLINGER thing)and this kid with seemingly psychic powers (where have seen THAT before in a Stephen King book) might just be the key to finding the sneaky bastard once and for all! Can these two unlikely allies manage to stop The Man in Black from his evil schemes before he destroys THE DARK TOWER and the universe along with it? What does The Man in Black have in store for them once they find his EVIL lair? Could Idris Elba look any more BAD ASS than he does in this movie!?
The Birth of a Nation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Nate Parker
To tell you the truth, I was not looking forward to seeing this and was up until the last minute figuring out if I wanted to take a pass on this considering the controversy surrounding the filmmaker’s past deeds. Ultimately, I am a film critic and decided that I might as well have an informed opinion on something rather than avoiding the topic. Not to say that someone choosing not to see this is making the wrong choice as it’s not anyone’s place to tell anyone else what to go see at the theater (I avoided that last Dinesh D’Souza film like the plague despite it sticking around for an embarrassingly long time at one of the theaters I frequent), rather I’m just letting you know what my reason was for deciding to review this film. Does it manage to be a great film even with the controversies surrounding it, or will this be so bad that we can easily dismiss the film and its director? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about the life of Nat Turner (Nate Parker who also writes, directs, and produces) who famously led a slave rebellion in 1831 that killed a bunch of slave owners before… well go read the Wikipedia page or watch the movie to find out what happened. But what about his life BEFORE killing white people? What drove the man to commit such acts of violence, especially considering how deeply religious he was? After all, wasn’t one of the commandments THOUGH SHALL NOT KILL? Well we get those answers as the rebellion itself is the climax to a character study of one man who faced indignity after indignity throughout his entire life and even saw it first hand when his master (Armie Hammer) had him go around to other plantations to preach the word of God to those slaves to keep them nice and complacent rather than rebellious and stabby. What other challenges did Nat have to face before turning to the sword? Well, you’ll just have to see the movie to find out!
London Has Fallen and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features, Gramercy Pictures, and Lionsgate Films
Directed by Babak Najafi
Look, Gods of Egypt was a mistake, alright? Gerard Butler was certainly not the ONLY one responsible for that catastrophe and was frankly one of the few saving graces for a movie that deserved none. He’s learned his lesson though and is coming back with a sequel to probably his second most popular film (after 300). Will this be the shot in the arm his career needs after that unfathomable mess, or will this befall the same fate of pretty much every other sequel to a surprise hit which is to crash and burn spectacularly? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Secret Service agent Mike Bannon (Gerard Butler) and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) who are in London so that the President can attend the funeral of the recently deceased Prime Minister. Not only is he in attendance though, but so are many leaders of the western world which is something this movie seems to think has NEVER happened. Uh… world leaders get together all the time. Has this movie ever heard of the G8 summit? Anyway, the death of the Prime Minister turns out to be a ploy for a known arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul) to take his revenge on the US (and presumably the rest of the G8) for a drone strike that was targeting him, but managed to kill everyone at his daughter’s wedding. There’s only ONE person who seems to think that something might be up though, and when shit hits the fan Mike Bannon is on the job to save the president and kill as many bad guys as possible! While this is going on, Vice President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) is dragged back into the situation room to deal with ANOTHER crisis where the President is smack dab in the middle of utter chaos and he does… stuff. I think. Will Mike be able to save the President and the free world before the day is over? Is there a mole in the British military or spy network that helped these terrorist pull of their plan? Did all the people they dragged back in from the first movie at least get a nice paycheck out of this?