Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: TRIPLE FRONTIER (Netflix)

TRIPLE FRONTIER is a movie that would’ve killed it in theaters in the mid 90s, it probably would’ve been a Jerry Bruckheimer production, and Nicolas Cage, Sylvester Stallong, Arnold Swarzenegger, Jean Clean Van Damme, and (insert any name I forgot here) probably would’ve been on the team. However, it is now a Netflix film, a pretty solid one at that, and it stars our generation of actors with the likes of Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garret Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal. This movie has been in the making since 2010, since a bunch of stars names have come and gone when production kept getting delayed and delayed. But now it’s here, and instead of risking itself to be lost in the crowd of countless unoriginal remakes, sequels, and superhero films, Netflix has decided to drop it on their platform, and I think that will be the best decision the filmmakers ever had.

When it comes to Netflix, their television productions I have always found 80/20 solid, but with their original films, I’ve always felt the exact opposite. Other than Roma, Mudbound, and maybe Pumpkin and When We First Met, name me another solid Netflix film. Go head. We’ve gotten clunkers like Mute and The Cloverfield Paradox, and countless others I haven’t even tried because the reviews on them have been mediocre to worse. Thankfully Triple Frontier is a step in the right direction. With more films like this, Netflix has a chance to really one up the ‘Spielbergs’ of the world and prove that their platform is not something to mess with. Countless people could stay at home and be able to enjoy a movie in the comfort of their own home without having to deal with the idiot nimrods that talk, text, and do other annoying shit in theaters. While Triple Frontier would be just as enjoyable in a theater, I loved that I got to watch it on release at home with a big TV and decent sound system. But that’s probably a debate that won’t be settled anytime soon so let’s get to the actual movie.

While Triple Frontier is referring to the tri-border area along the junction of Brazil, Argentina and Paraquay, where the Iguazu and Parana rivers meet, the movie is about 5 men retired from the military that go find a drug lord there, steal his money in a heist type scenario, kill just him with no other casualties, and make it out alive. Needless to say I don’t need to say much more in terms of plot, other than their plan obviously doesn’t go that smoothly. I found the movie to be quite unpredictable, namely who ends up dying or surviving and possible betrayals, but every step of the way the movie went in another direction, and I appreciated the journey into the unknown and unseen. I guess you could call this an action movie, but there is only action where it needs to be, spread out appropriately and not every two minutes like a Michael Bay film for the sake of extending screen time or providing the audience with eye popping cool CGI bukake.

The acting is all there, with everyone bringing everything to the table, with Affleck even looking like he was wanting to be there, his first sign of a heartbeat since he honestly tried his best in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. And at this point I’m pretty sure Oscar Isaac can act in anything that he God damn wants to. He is very versatile. The movie has a solid two hour run time, very entertaining, and like I said earlier, unpredictable. You feel for these characters as they are trying to get out of a hot zone, and every step that they make you either wince or yell in triumph. The movie is also very nice to look at, since they shot on actual locations and I couldn’t detect one screen screen shot in the entire run time. The movie is nicely directed by J.C. Chandor, whose other three films, Margin Call, A Most Violent Year, and All Is Lost, are all pretty solid themselves.

Your enjoyment and viewing experience might depend on how you watch this film. Definitely don’t watch it on a phone or really small television. Those theatrical enthusiasts could probably argue that this movie is best seen in a theater, and while I would agree with them, I think if you have a decent sized television and a half way decent sound coming out of it, you will probably find it as enjoyable as I did. Triple Frontier is a good old fashioned action/thriller that is better than average due to its unpredictability and realistic storytelling choices. What more do you want? An even better question, why can’t we get more stuff like this?


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CAPTAIN MARVEL (no spoilers)

DISCLAIMER: (because I have to do this with the butthurters nowadays with a film like this) Any criticisms I give to the following film CAPTAIN MARVEL in my review, are in no way, shape, or form, have to do with the fact in that this is the MCU’s first female superhero led film. In fact, I think we should get more female driven superhero films, as long as they are made correctly. I am not a misogynist, I am married and have a loving and awesome wife, and ANY CRITICISMS WHATSOEVER I HAVE WITH THIS FILM HAVE TO DO WITH A STORYTELLING OR SCRIPT LEVEL AND DOES NOT HAVE TO DO WITH BRIE LARSON OR ANY FEMALE LED SUPERHERO FILM. Jesus Christ, it’s sad that I have to do that eh? Let’s get down to brass taxes and first go with my summary of Captain Marvel as a whole: I quite enjoyed it, however, in the whole spectrum of all 21 MCU films we have gotten to date, it is not one of the higher tier ones, like the first Iron Man, the first Avengers, the first Guardians, or Infinity War, yet it is not one of the lower tier ones like Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, or The Incredible Hulk. It is somewhere in the middle, resting its good not great addition to the universe head along with its buddies such as Black Panther, Ant-Man, Guardians 2, or Doctor Strange.

I will star this off by saying that contrary to reports that Brie Larson is wooden in the Captain Marvel role (I think some people are just trolling and saying it even when they haven’t seen it yet), I assure you, she is not. She is very likable in this and in fact I think she knew that the script itself had some problems (there are 3 screenwriters, and 5 people get a story by credit) and she added her own cute little quirks and mannerisms to the role. I think with the right script and a more focused characterization Brie Larson could be a masterful superhero. But she is quite good with what she was given. In fact, everyone is good. Jude Law is good. Samuel L. Jackson is the man. Ben Mendelsohn nearly steals the movie. The very lackluster trailers and tv spots don’t showcase the good film that Disney/Marvel have on their hands here. In fact, if you look at all the other trailers, they don’t really sell their films anymore. They might need to hire better people that can cut a decent marketing campaign.

I was never once bored and looked at my cell phone clock with this movie, I was entertained throughout the whole thing. But the movie does have several issues and it all boils down to one notion, something that I knew was coming a long time ago, but is finally starting to seek through the cracks: Marvel’s Origin Story formula is starting to shake and if they aren’t careful, will soon crumble and fall like half of the DCEU’s slate. The entire movie is 200% predictable. It’s “twists” are 200% predictable (it does one “oh it was really this/him/her the whole time gimmick we’ve seen done in 100,000 movies before it). You can probably even fucking guess what the mid and end credits scenes are, that’s how predictable this thing is. Here’s a true, in my opinion, fact: Captain Marvel should’ve been introduced in Phase 1 or 2 of the MCU, should’ve already had one sequel by now with that story showing what happened with what she does at the end of this movie, and it wouldn’t have felt like this was shoe horned in right before Avengers: Endgame.

Because it is. Because you can feel it. Because everything feels rushed. Obviously you’ve seen from the trailers that Brie Larson has amnesia and is starting to remember things of where she may have had a life on Earth before becoming a Kree. The film feels too fast paced that, when she eventually remembers some stuff and comes face to face with some long lost family and friends, I didn’t feel anything. Like the confrontations that she is thrust into should’ve had more power, brevity, and levity. And it didn’t. It’s just like, “oh hi, don’t know you much, I know that I used to and we used to be two peas in a pod, well, I’m back, nice to meet ya.” Films need to have a giant emotional impact. If the film had focused on her amnesia stuff maybe just a few minutes longer, like 10 to 15, those scenes would’ve felt earned, not forced. The main issue is that there is just wayyy too much story stuffed into a medium box of 2 hrs, just in service to quickly get an origin story out of the way so she can be a bad ass motherfucker in Avengers: Endgame.

The movies got the Kree, old characters you saw in Guardians 1, a strange cat named Goose, amnesia problems, long gestating wars, witty banter, reunions, betrayals, double crosses, triple crosses, just too much that the script is a little shaky on its foundation and bounced off the wall too much at times. And near the end, kind of like the problem Black Panther had, its CGI is a little troublesome. And while the action is fun, but not that memorable. Oh, and one more AND to the million I have said already, the movie has still has got the Marvel villain problem (you’ll see). While the movie was wayyyy too late in the making, its just fortunate that it wasn’t a disaster, is watchable, and is enjoyable. The real star of the movie is the de-ageing effects on one Samuel L. Jackson. Fucking seemless, I couldn’t believe it, he actually looks like he just stepped out of his role in the 90s film The Negotiator (from which they based his de-ageing on) and hasn’t skipped a beat.

So anyway, in summation, Captain Marvel is a solid, good, yet not great addition to the MCU. I did enjoy myself sitting in the theater experiencing it. And none of it has to do with the fact that it is a female driven superhero film. All the problems are in the script, the story, and two directors who have directed a handful of episodes of Billions and The Affair, and two indie features films (Half Nelson and It’s Kind of A Funny Story) that I thought were way out of their element here. If we could get a solid script and better directors, and a focused pace, we could get a sequel that is truly special. A true sequel, not just Avengers: Endgame. Oh, btw, if the opening Marvel logo/credits don’t make you tear up and want to applaud, you aren’t human.


HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD, to be blatant, is very simple and harmless. After watching the second film, I imagined what the trilogy capper could end up being 5 years ago (yes, the second one was 2014 believe it or not), and I was in the ballpark with my guess: one last ditch effort of trying to harmonize humans and dragons, a evil douchebag standing in their way, and a female Fury (no, I didn’t guess that it would be white/light). I think I was more prepared going into it not expecting something that was too complicated or expecting any world changing revelations. I expected a decent story to end the franchise, I expected to be better than the 2nd film, and I expected to be entertained. I got all three, so there really are going to be no complaints on this film from me.

If there are any complaints it is just going to be me, right now in my review, bitching about the second film. The second film isn’t that memorable. In fact, I think I’ve maybe seen it once again since the theater and can only remember that Hiccup’s dad was ‘shockingly’ killed off, Hiccup’s mom was still alive, and they defeated a villain hellbent on either destroying dragons or using them for ultimate power. The first film I remember the most, from its amazing Academy Award nominated score, to its unique and funny storyline. They could’ve honestly just have never done another Dragon sequel after that because it is a solid masterpiece of a solo animated kids film. But Hollywood because money, am I right? However, one of the best compliments I can give this film is that IT ENDS IT, even the marketing advertises it as being the last installment, and it looks like it is keeping its promise.

I hope so, because I can’t imagine where the story could go if they made a 4th. But what am I saying, Hollywood will want to reboot this in ten years, and then just make Hiccup’s descendants or something part of that reboot and it’ll just end up being a Force Awakens effect of a ‘sequelboot.’ God, I fucking hope not. I’m hoping in ten years this rebooting/remake fad will have run its course and we’ll move on to something else maybe less annoying but more original? Who am I kidding? This review has gotten off track, I know, but I really don’t have much to say on the film, just what I said at the beginning, its simple and harmless, and managed to entertain me, and it was more memorable because of all the female Light Fury stuff.

And to give it a few more props: The villain was definitely more memorable this time out, actually being a smart douchebag for once and voiced with passion by F. Murray Abraham. There actually felt like a legitimizing threat in the world of the dragons. The animation as always is fantastic, in fact, one part where Hiccup and Astrid go to this gorgeous, huge waterfall, the waterfall looked incredibly real and so did Hiccup and Astrid flying on a dragon in the distance. The voice work is again all excellent from everyone the only distracting thing was noticing how T.J. Miller wasn’t voicing Tuffnut anymore. (I shouldn’t have to explain to you why.) Another complaint I guess I could pull out of thin air for this film is that, like the 2nd one, the score seems to just be recycled yet again with a couple of extra notes here and there.

But yes, this was a good trilogy capper, and if you are obsessed with the How To Train Your Dragon movies, you are going to love this, and want three specific Funko Pop Vinyls of characters near the end of the film. There is nothing wrong with this film. It isn’t boring in any way, I was entertained for the most part, and it didn’t take and risks or try to negatively subvert expectations. It’s a fantastic family film. But now it seems the dragons are trained…so time to let them off the leash, wouldn’t you agree?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC had the potential to be something that could really poke fun at, yet homage all the romantic comedies we’ve seen time and again and still get made to this day. While it wasn’t the disaster I thought it would be, I don’t feel like it tried hard enough to poke fun at everything and instead at times fell into more of the pit falls that hurt those kinds of films. In the end, I feel like it was a decent one time watch, and that maybe someone down the line will watch this film, and decide to make a better one. I have to admit, it wasn’t as agonizingly dumb like the stupid parody films we’ve gotten in recent years like Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet The Spartans, Superhero Movie, Disaster Movie or anything like that, but it should’ve dug deeper into the subject matter and maybe given us a film more akin to Airplane! or Top Secret! instead.

If you live in a tree and don’t know what Isn’t It Romantic? is about, it is supposed to take the romantic comedy formula, spin it on it’s head, make fun of it, and come to a more realistic conclusion based more in reality. Rebel Wilson stars as an architect that just can’t catch a break in her job or love life, and after she bangs her head in a mugging incident, she wakes up in a world where everything adheres to the rom-com rules of the movies. The movie outright make fun of those films by having Wilson’s character be bleeped whenever she tries to say the F word, and not showing the sex between her and Liam Hemsworth characters, and it also has nice little subtle touches that I enjoyed more such as pretty flowers being absolutely everywhere and little Easter Egg road signs about engagement and marriage.

The movie tries to be more realistic when it isn’t in the fantasy world, such as stating that New York really is not that great to look at and smells of shit, but it doesn’t take it to that realistic level it needed to be at for me. Her little thing with Adam Devine in the real world still reeks of movie cliched dialogue and tropes and the ending, ending (going into the credits) really missed the opportunity to be more realistic. It instead just threw the pages of the screenplay up into the air and just shrugged off everything that it tried to establish before and decided to have a non charming song and annoying dance number. The whole film needed to have more scenes like when Rebel Wilson is about to try on a bunch of clothes for a date with Hemsworth and she goes on about not doing a “trying on clothes” montage, and then THEY DON’T DO THE MONTAGE! More of that would’ve been fantastic, but the jokes don’t hit as often as they should.

I’ll also give the film some props: this is the first film where I wasn’t annoyed at all by Rebel Wilson’s character. She still does her improve that somehow works, but it is now all incorporated into a normal character that the audience can relate to. Rebel Wilson isn’t just screaming lines in this and spouting off nonsense, it looks like she wanted to take this comedy a little bit more seriously to branch out of her type cast of the not so pitch perfect films she has done before. Adam Devine proves that he is still an underrated comedian and should be in more things and Liam Hemsworth proves that, like his brother, he should be in more comedies to stretch out his talent. One actress I did not like in this was Priyanka Chopra. I’ve never thought she was a good actress, and in this her improv skills are…lacking, for lack of a better and meaner word. She has always been just eye candy to me and in this she doesn’t show anymore range. She was awful in this as much as she was in Baywatch. I never watched Quantico, but I’m guessing her career is going be way of Kate Hudson more than anything.

Anyway, my wife liked this film more than I did, and I have a feeling most women will eat this up, but to me, I watched it once, and that was enough. I’m thanking God it wasn’t a disaster like other parody films we have gotten in the recent age, but wished it was smarter like some parody films we got a long long time ago now. There just wasn’t enough poking fun of rom-coms for me. It should’ve been a joke a second, when it was more like a joke every couple of minutes. The run time of this is extremely short, only 84-86 minutes, and parts of it felt slow, which should not happen in films like these. Anyway, I just look at this as a little bit of a missed opportunity, but I didn’t want to rip my eyes or ears off. I think you’ll like it more if you are familiar with the movies it makes fun of. Also, if you do see it, see it on a romantic date… you might get a little more out of it than if you go alone.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MIRAI and NEVER LOOK AWAY (2 film review) OSCAR CATCH UP CHAPTER 11. BANKRUPTCY. FINISHED!!!

Wow, being 100% complete on one year’s worth of Oscar nominations and being prepared the most I have ever been for the telecast this Sunday, and also for Diane and I’s 10th Annual and last Oscar party, feels great. Doing this was one of my ‘bucket list’ items and I’m glad I completed it at only 32, thanks to a lot of things (Netflix, Hulu, dark web illegal shit, last minute screenings, friends of friends). It was also a fucking beating, time consuming, and I’m never going to do it again. So here is part 11 of my Oscar catch up. I’m finally done. For the rest of the year you will be getting only 2019 movie reviews. Here we go:

MIRAI (Nominated for Best Animated Feature)

I’ve never really ‘gotten’ anime I guess you could say. Other than being into the Pokemon video games and watching several episode of the cartoon when I was younger, to watching several episodes of Full Metal Alchemist when I was older, I never really gotten into it or care for it. So take my review of Mirai with a grain of salt, especially if you are an anime fan. That being said, the movie was okay. I really think it was nominated as a “we need a fifth nominated film, here’s your consolation prize as there weren’t other noticeable U.S. films this year, and we usually include one Japanese anime film on here per year now so we aren’t labeled racist or non-diverse.”

If you look really hard at it while watching it, you could compare it to The Boss Baby, with Alec Baldwin. It’s about a young little brat kid that has a new sister, and imagines a bunch of scenarios in his mind about interacting with past and future versions of his ancestors, parents, and his new little sister Mirai, in order to become a better person, but most importantly, a role model for his little sister. The main version that comes to him is his “sister that is older from the future.” The film didn’t really get going for me until the last 15-20 minutes, with awesome imagery and animation that reminded me of watching Little Nemo and the Adventures in Slumberland when I was a little kid.

The animation is great too, always love and miss 2D renderings all the time at the same time. It was just that I was mostly bored while watching it. It didn’t click with me. The Japanese anime humor flies way over my head and I honestly just don’t get it. But if you are a lover of anime and a pretty decent story, this film is definitely right up your alley. Hell there could’ve been a much worse fifth nomination this year…like Smallfoot maybe? I don’t know, didn’t see it but heard it was shit.

NEVER LOOK AWAY (Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Cinematography)

And yet another foreign language film I found to be more engaging, engrossing, and entertaining than Roma, and this son of a bitch is 3 hrs and 8 minutes long! I can’t decide if I like this or Capernaum better but I know that both completely blow Roma out of the water for me (even though I still find Roma to be a very good cinematic achievement…technically not narratively). Never Look Away takes place between right around 1937 and goes to 1961. It chronicles the the life of a painter named Kurt Barnett and his life as a child dealing with the end of World War II and the tragic death of his beautiful aunt, through socialist expressionism, all the way to where art became extremely experimental and avant-garde. His life consists of meeting and falling in love with a beautiful designer student while also trying to find his true voice as an artist in a profession that is constantly changing. While he is the narrative focus we also get a B Plot of a Nazi Professor named Carl Seeband and his role in the Nazi eugenics program. I would explain what that is, but the movie does that well enough for you and you can look it up on your own, it’s quite malicious and horrifying. Plus if I keep going with the plot I’m going to ruin the entire thing for you, best to check it out for yourself.

To say that these two stories intertwine at some point is a given, and you would think that I would complain that by the way these two stories come together are too much of a coincidence for me (I complained about this in my review of Border), however, with the 3 hour run time, and the ultimate conclusion/resolution to the film, the film easily earns its couple of happenstances and the ending thankfully foregoes a cliched confrontation that so many movies have done before. The film is also nominated for Best Cinematography, and I also agree that its nomination in this category was well deserved. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (who is Zooey and Emily’s father) enriches the screen with beautiful imagery of a pre, present, and post war country. It get even better in the latter half of the film with Carl trying his hand at creating different forms of art, especially the climax.

The acting in here is great as well, so great in fact that about 15 minutes into the film I didn’t even realize I was reading subtitles to get what was going on. Although the main actor Tom Schilling looks like if Jeremy Renner and Devon Sawa fucked and had a baby. It was a little distracting at times because I wanted to prove that all three of them were related. The actor that plays the Nazi Professor, Sebastian Koch, is great here as well, and some of you may recognize him from some American films/television programs like A Good Day To Die Hard or Homeland. Here he gets a lot of scenery to chew and does it well. Anyway, the story here is magnificent and if you really like foreign films and don’t mind reading subtitles, the 3 hours wasn’t just necessary for me to appreciate all that was necessary in this story to tell, but also flew by like watching Titanic or Gone With The Wind. It’s an epic story told with epic perfection.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BORDER and HALE COUNTY, THIS MORNING THIS EVENING (2 Film Review) Oscar Catch Up Part 10…of 11

Thank God the journey to watch all the nominees this year is almost over. Just got to see Mirai tonight and you’ll get a review of that plus Never Look Away tomorrow. I don’t want to leave my Oscar Catch Up series on a dire note (hint: I’ve already seen Never Look Away and loved it), so for the penultimate review I am going to talk about two films that I absolutely hated and that should not have gotten nominated whatsoever:

BORDER (Nominated For Best Makeup and Hairstyling)

This film is about trolls and baby raping. I shit you not. It’s sort of a realistic fucked up adult fairy tale with dour mistreatment of infants that I could barely stomach. Do not watch this film if you have a newborn, or if you get depressed really easily. The movie is nominated mainly for the two leads and their facial prosthetics around their face, and also probably for the make up on the “non-living troll embryos,” don’t fucking ask. It is nominated with two other films, Vice and Mary Queen of Scots. I can literally think of any other film that could’ve been nominated instead of Border, such as all the cool make up and hairstyling from any one in Wakanda in Black Panther or Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, where they used Xenu Scientology like make up to keep Tom Cruise from aging…

The film starts out promising enough: a weird looking woman, who works as a airport border patrol agent has a unique talent, she can sniff out the ‘wrong’ in people. One day, she sniffs out a SD card hidden in the back of the cell phone that contains child pornography. This leads to higher ups wanting her to help them find this porn ring and put a stop to it. So there is Plot Point B. Plot Point A is that a weird looking guy, that almost looks just like her, happens to come through customs soon after that. She smells something wrong on him too, although they don’t find really anything on him (except that he has female and not male parts ((again, don’t fucking ask)). They end up together and starting a relationship, and he reveals their true origins.

I’m going to get into a minor spoiler here (not going to say exactly what it is), but one thing I didn’t like the film is that Plot Point B happens to overlap someway into Plot Point A, where the whole story felt forced and too coincidental. And then the rest of the film hints at child abduction, baby raping, trolls growing appendages and fucking each other…and a bunch more things I just couldn’t get into. The film was just too weird and dragged on in parts. I think though I would’ve like the whole ‘sniffing what is wrong with people’ detective scenario quite a bit…if it was done righteously in a different movie.

HALE COUNTY, THIS MORNING THIS EVENING (Nominated for Best Documentary)

So when watching all of these documentaries, I was trying to pin point the exact movie that shouldn’t have been nominated over the greatly snubbed and much better Won’t You Be My Neighbor? documentary on Fred Rogers. After watching RBG, Free Solo, Of Fathers and Sons, and Minding The Gap…I was like, oh shit, maybe it was snubbed for a good reason. Nope. Hale County, This Morning This Evening is one of the worst documentaries I have ever seen. It has absolutely no message, no linear narrative, and no emotional weight (except for one tiny scene that I thought was going to dive deeper into the film in the halfway point ((deals with SIDS)), but nope, just moves on without any explanation or general thought on the event really).

In fact, the doc has several scenes that last 5 to 10 minutes each where NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENS. It’s either a POV shot of a car driving down the road with no dialogue, or people talking in the background where you can even hear what they are talking about (putting on subtitles does no good as it reads ‘people talking indiscernible in background’) while a child runs around the room, or a static shot of a basketball team in a locker room, all talking over each other and neither you or the subtitle feature can make out whatever the fuck they are saying.

Critics and a couple of others are praising the nonlinear documentary for being nonlinear and that it is ‘pure cinematic poetry’, and I just can’t understand why. The film is supposed to be about a black community that lives in Hale County in Alabama’s black belt. But to me it wasn’t really about anything. There no message on poverty, or racism, or really any hardships of any kind save for a child dying of SIDS. To me, this documentary had no purpose, it was avant-garde film student film making at its most experimentally worst. Documentaries, in my opinion, always need to have some kind of structure. Trying to do something other than that seems risky of losing your audiences attention span. I had to wash dishes and clean baby bottles while watching it just to get through it.

GUEST CRITIC! Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews Presents Don Hernandez’s take on ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL

Hey there, this is Zach really quick here, I posted on my Facebook page that I would not be reviewing ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL because I really don’t have much of an interest in seeing it. So instead, my good friend Don Hernandez decided to write up his opinion on the film. After reading his review…kind of glad I’m skipped out on it and am waiting for rental. Anyway, here is Don’s review:

After being pushed back multiple times, The Robert Rodriguez/James Cameron manga adaptation has finally been released in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s clear why Fox pushed it back over and over again as they hoped the CGI filled Sci-fi action movie would do better against more diverse movies. With the original summer date and then the Christmas date, Alita would have been battling some major action juggernauts. While she may be able to handle her own in the movie, no amount of cybernetics would have kept her from being lost in the crowd.

Don’t get me wrong, the visuals are stunning and Alita, despite being all CGI, comes off quite realistic the longer you are in this world. However, two of the main baddies end up not feeling realistic at all (Nova & Grewishka, I don’t know why but it really felt like they ran out of money when these two were put together as they look so out of place at times). The action sequences are awesome. Alita’s bar fight and the arena sequence are spectacular (highly recommend Dolby Cinema or IMAX to get full effect of this).

Where the movie suffers is the story. One part I have to mention first, because I still can’t shake how dumb it is, happens just around the halfway point: there are these individuals called “Hunter Warriors” and some huge leaps in logic are taken to how they are viewed in this society that made me say to myself more than once, “wait, when was this established about them?” It literally makes no sense unless they were just trying to find a way for Alita to monologue before giving us a fight scene. Let me put it this way, a tiny little dog shows more bravery in the movie than 99% of these so called “bad ass hunter warriors”.

It gets even more odd later because one of them starts spouting off about “the hunter code”….to quote another movie “the code is more or less guidelines than actual rules”. Many important characters aren’t really given their moments to be fleshed out enough to care/understand their motivations either. When we get some character development, it’s quick and pushed aside for the shiny CGI moments. Which is a shame because Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, and Masherala Ali are all great actors.

As for the main character’s story…. Alita is introduced quite well and we are just as invested as she is to find out who she truly is. We do get pieces here and there but it’s never fully explained. Throughout this there is, of course, the “of different worlds” love story that provides the vehicle for finding out more of Alita’s arc but overall it isn’t needed to actually advance it. A little over halfway into the movie though it’s clear why; the whole thing is just being set up for future installments (that maybe will give more backstories of more than just Alita?). Too many studios are doing this now and it’s hurting more than helping. It’s a double edged sword. Do I want a sequel to this? Sure…..but I didn’t need Fox force feeding it to me. Let the film speak for itself. It’s poor writing when you can’t create a self contained story but leave the possibility for continuing it. If you need half your movie to be set up you already failed.

The ending, the cameos, the star power, so much is wasted here since the film has already made it’s bed; we are left with an incomplete story that really doesn’t make any sense. I felt like I was on a cool roller coaster ride in the dark that showed me flashes of the rest of the track only for the ride to end.

As stated previously, it’s a shame because a self contained story would have made this a concrete much watch. That’s saying a lot because I’ve always believed action movies aren’t supposed to be for “story”. Sure, a solid story can make certain action movies stand out from the rest. Overall though it’s all about the action, explosions, and visuals. Only in this case, it’s an action sci-fi film that introduces us to a different world and time so we need that story to make the connection & investment. A character’s development can manage that as well but it needs to be within the first film. Sadly Alita: Battle Angel asks too much of the audience without giving us the proper motivation with no guarantee of the future.