REVIEW: “ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL” (2019) 20th Century Fox

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From the dark depths of the cold Los Angeles winter evening, I dared dragged myself to go see this film. With my having already skipped one media screening, I decided to take my own dare and see “ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL” as it is the last one under the 20th Century Fox’s banner before the Disney takeover.

Needless to say, I should have picked truth – as while it took 10 yrs to get made, it only takes 10 minutes to wish you had stayed at home as it’s a film completely and totally taken from a barrage of other films.

Now I’ve not read the source material but I do know that Alita was originally a Manga comic series which is a Japanese graphic art novel. It seems James Cameron, along with Robert Rodriguez, are bringing the first of four of these books to the cinema with this film. From the little research I did into this, eastern stories have a lot of tradition – one being that any hero is the last practitioner of a secret and are martial arts experts. In Alita’s case this is something that I read to be Panzer Kunst which means Tank Art according to the online translator. She also, predictably, has no memory of her past which means we can go on this voyage of growth and discovery together riiight?!! well….

The story is set in the South American, Iron City in the shadow of a gigantic floating station from another lifetime, three hundred years after a great war. So: post apocalyptic dystopia. There is a blend of architectures, super cyberpunk characters, ruins and fragments of forgotten technologies. It looks great and the CGI is fantastic. It all starts with ex-engineer Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoff Waltz) finding the head and shoulders of a female cyborg in a junk pile. Somehow, magically the brain is still alive. So like in the story of Humpty Dumpty, he puts her back together again and proceeds to treat her as his daughter who was, you guessed it, named Alita played here by Rosa Salazar. Alita has no memory of who she once was but she immediately finds love with the handsome motorcycle riding human Hugo (Keenan Johnson) and also finds out within hours that she can fight like a badass. When Hugo introduces Alita to the brutal spectator sport of Motorball where the carnage is more important than the score and the winner gets a ticket to the space station. All bets are on you know who is going to want to be a Mortorball star and where this film is heading.

‘If’ this film, which had it maybe been made 10 years ago before we had say Pacific Rim, or ‘if’ it had maybe one original idea of its own, I might have really enjoyed it. As is, ‘Motorball’ the game it portrays, is a COMPLETE and total ripoff of the original 70’s Rollerball with James Caan (catorgically a much better film by the way). ‘If’ maybe the baddies like Zapan (Ed Skrein) weren’t simply already done so many times before, or ‘if’ Jennifer Connelly & Mahershala Ali had just not phoned in their performances and ‘if’ they had given them some grit. All those ‘ifs’ just make this too hard of a film to roll with all the way through.

While the character development is quite decent, it’s the characters themselves that gave me question. Some might not be bothered by the huge Manga eyes on Alita, but for me they were just plain creepy. Add into that, the whole doll-like 12yr old look that reminded me of the ‘Big Eyes’ paintings – another ‘not working’ item for me. I even got a bit creeped out of sorts by Christoph Waltzs’ Dr. Ido at the beginning when he leans over her broken machine body as he first finds her and says ‘You will be my little angel’. Granted, he turns out to be a ‘good guy’.

This was by far not the worst Sci-Fi I’ve ever seen, but it is one of the most lackluster. My take is if you love the comic story it’s based on, you will probably understand the film and like it a lot more as I didn’t hate it and as a time killer it was decent enough. While Alita: Battle Angel didn’t leave me wanting more and the next chapters don’t entice much, the cold hard fact is this film would probably have been best had it been done 10 yrs ago as we might not have seen the same-type cyborg movies that have already been done so many times previous to it and this would have seemed fresh & new. As it was, I’ve seen it and it just was all used material from so many other films.

Lastly, do you need to watch it in IMAX/3D? The flying jumps and weapon projectiles do look good – but it’s a lot of extra money for something that isn’t essential.

Grade: C-
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening Tuesday, February 7, 2019 ~ courtesy of 20th Century Fox
“ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL” IS OUT WORLDWIDE AS OF FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2019

DAY 2 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR”

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Day 2 of the countdown ~ Probably for me at least, the hardest category to judge as it’s just filled to the brim of fantastic performances and I wish they could all win. And remember, this is a category known for going to the most random of choices.
Reminder: I’m giving who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Mahershala Ali, MoonlightWINNER
While I wasn’t the films biggest fan, if I had to pick a part that I liked, it was the first segment with this guy in it. But I don’t think his character was that developed — I mean, he’s this great guy, and then all of a sudden he just disappears. I missed the grit of his character throughout the rest of the film.

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
While I might not have seen awards coming for this movie, Bridges came through on this performance in a big way. Jeff makes it look easy but, boy, what he does is not easy.

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
If I was going to pick a performance from this film that I truly liked, it was Hedges. Although he was good here played his characters strengths and weaknesses well, it just misses being at the level of great…barely though. Keep an eye on this kid, he will be back in award categories to come.

Dev Patel, Lion
Again, we have a strong contender here. While playing an almost separate character from his child-self, it was quite seamless how he brought it all together at the end.

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Another truly mind-blowing performance by Shannon. Why this man doesn’t already have an Oscar on his shelf is just not comprehendable.

Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this blog a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

GOLDEN GLOBES 2017 (Part 2) ~ FILM/ACTING PICKS

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Here we are with part two of my Golden Globes picks – this round is Film and Acting.
I’ve seen almost all the films presented this year, even the foreign ones – though yes, I’ve missed a few as there is only so much one human being can do! I also have a few categories where I just didn’t like any of the nominees enough to make a ‘MY PICK’. You might agree or even better, you might disagree ~ it’s all good.
So with that..I give you #peggyatthemovies 2016/17 Golden Globe picks! Cheers!

BEST PICTURE (DRAMA)

Hacksaw Ridge
Mel Gibson is riding the come back high with this decently done war film. While it’s war scenes are done very well, it’s riddled with a lot of cheesy storyline in the first hour.

Hell or High Water
While it’s good to see a film be remembered from earlier in the year, it really never struck me as Award material when watching.

Lion
A sweet and rather powerful story of a child’s journey into being a man, and finding not only his true story, but his family’s also.

Manchester by the Sea
While I didn’t dislike this film, it was monotonous and so slow for long periods throughout. I found the last 1/2 hr. to be the best as we finally found out what was going on.

Moonlight – WINNER
While watching this film, I couldn’t help thinking I’ve seen this story before..and we have – except it was done much better on the ‘The Wire’.

I just really don’t have a pick in this category as I didn’t truly love any of these nominees, so I’m just going with what I think will win.

BEST PICTURE (COMEDY/MUSICAL)

20th Century Women
Remember how I mentioned I hadn’t seen all the movies – this is the one that my screening is actually this Tuesday.

Deadpool
Funny, fun, fast and R-rated sheer entertainment made this a favourite of mine.

Florence Foster Jenkins
Not sure how there is a nom for this one, but hey, I guess they gotta fill up the category somehow.

La La LandWINNER
With an opening scene that is just truly beautiful and so well done, you would think the rest of the film to be just as good. It’s not. Mind you it’s a good watch, just a little to far-fetched, cutsey perfect for me.

Sing StreetMY PICK
Now this movie, sadly got missed by so many and IT’S SO SO GOOD!! I would pick this as best film of all the choices given to us as Globe nominees film wise, drama or comedy, on this one. Sadly, it won’t win and it’s so deserving.

Best Director

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
While Chazelle made one of my top fav. films ever with ‘Whiplash’, and again, he does a good job with the direction of this pic, it’s just not as gripping of a film.

Tom Ford, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Hands down my favourite film of the year. This film terrorized me in all the best ways possible. And it was made possible all by Mr. Ford.

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Again, he’s on the comeback-kid tour right now, and really did a spetacular job on the war scenes, but I don’t think he’s been forgiven enough to win his first time back.

Barry Jenkins, MoonlightWINNER
Gotta give it to Barry Jenkins for even getting this movie made. I know from being in a Q & A after the film, how hard they all worked. It just didn’t work that well for me. Many love it.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
While the film was aesthetically pleasing, again I just can’t call it a ‘fav’ for me. And while I’ve really liked some of his other work, this one isn’t my pick.

BEST ACTOR (DRAMA)

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the SeaWINNER
I liked Casey in the film, I did. And having an insightful & humourous Q & A with him afterwards helped make me like the film just a bit more than I did. I just didn’t see it as an Award winning performance.

Joel Edgerton, Loving
Didn’t do it for me. Honestly, when was the last time you heard Edgerton actually speak with his native accent..yeah I can’t remember either and him trying to do the backwoods southern didn’t work for me.

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Again, the accent thing bothered me here. Do I think the performance was bad, no. But it didn’t warrant an Award either.

Viggo Mortensen, Captain FantasticMY PICK
Mortensen has been pretty underappreciated in his career. I say we make that right here. Even though I know it won’t happen, it would be great to see.

Denzel Washington, Fences
Denzel..oh Denzel..how I adore you. You pretty much own every role you do.

BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA)

Amy Adams, Arrival
While I really enjoyed this film, one of the best Sci-Fi I’ve seen, she really shoulda gotten this nom for Nocternal Animals because thats where she really shined.

Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
I think Jessica is wonderful, though I did not see this film yet.

Isabelle Huppert, ElleMY PICK
Huppert simply put – blew me away in this one. I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen a performance like it, and probably never will again. Sadly, I’m guessing she won’t win.

Ruth Negga, Loving
I liked this performance so much once she started speaking and really putting forth as the first 30+ min she just really never said anything.

Natalie Portman, JackieWINNER
Yes, we all know they are going to give the award to Natalie. And while she was good here, she doesn’t even come close to Huppert.

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY

Colin Farrell, The LobsterMY PICK
Colin was so fantastic in this funny, bizarrely good film that he was hands down, best in category for me.

Ryan Gosling, La La LandWINNER
We all know Gosling was a Mouseketeer so yes, he can sing and dance etc.. And was really cutsey good here as well as the film was. Just not Award cutsey for me.

Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
While his performance was one of the better spots in this film, it’s so far from Award worthy.

Jonah Hill, War Dogs
Clearly they were desperatly trying to fill up this category here. Did anyone see this film besides me at a free screening months before it came out? Yeah I’m guessing not – there is a reason for that.

Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
I truly did love Ryan in this film – but again, Award worthy..nah..

BEST ACTRESS, (COMEDY)

Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Dang on this one, my screening is Tues. night.

Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply
I was out of the country when this one came out and by the time I got back, it was gone out of theatres.

Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
Cute film, cute performance – I do think there will be awards sometime in her future.

Emma Stone, La La Land
Yeah – I like Emma and another cutsey performance. That’s really all there is to it.

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Okay again, do they just use Meryl every year as a filler for a supporting category. And while I think she is one of the greatest actresses of our time, it’s when she gets nominated year after year for this reason only that makes it tiresome.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
While I wasn’t the films biggest fan, if I had to pick a part that I liked, it was the first segment with this guy in it.

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High WaterWINNER
While I might not have seen awards coming for this movie, Bridges came through on this performance in a big way.

Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
This character was cute & funny..at first..then it just wore on you.

Dev Patel, Lion
I’m a big Dev Patel fan and while the child actor might have stolen the show, he did bring it all t

Aaron Taylor Johnson, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Some think he doesn’t deserve this. I think he TOTALLY does. Sure his roles leading up to this have been sub-par, but thats what makes this one so good – he did a complete 360 and brought the ‘terrifying’ to this role in a most fantastic way. Anytime someone can surprise me with a performance this good, yes they deserve a nom.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Viola Davis, Fences
Viola has proved herself to be one of the most standout actresses in Hollywood. She most definitely deserves the nom here. Plus, if she wins, you know it will be one fun acceptance speech!! 🙂

Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Liked it – just didn’t love it. Definitely worthy of a nom tho.

Nicole Kidman, Lion
Same here with Nicole, liked it – just didn’t love it.

Octavia Spencer, Hidden FiguresMY PICK/WINNER
Now I called this when I saw the film back in November. The whole movie is good with really good performances, but she takes it here for me. She has been and is my only and clear choice.

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Really, a blink of seven minutes total on screen..though the last scene with her and Affleck is the one what finally made me like the film better, still.

BEST SCREENPLAY

Damien Chazelle, La La LandPOSSIBLE WINNER
I think I’ve said my take on this film enough and while I think Chazelle has a fantastic career ahead of him, I

Tom Ford, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Having done a Q & A with Ford after the film really brought the ‘how’s & why’s’ insight into my fav. film of the year.

Barry Jenkins, MoonlightWINNER
Again, I completely commend Jenkins for even getting this film made. And I think it’s between him & Chazelle for who is the critical darling of the year.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Respect to the writing, though I might have enjoyed the process of it better as a book.

Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Well done for being remembered from earlier in the year. Worthwhile watch – not a win for me.

Best Animated Feature Film
While I saw all of these besides ‘Zucchini’ I just don’t have commentary for all of them. Just a pick.

Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
Sing
ZootopiaMY PICK/WINNER

Best Foreign Language Film
Have seen all but ‘Divines’ and I only have one hands down pick and what will hopefully be the winner!

Divines
ElleMY PICK/WINNER
Neruda
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Follow along to see what happens with my live tweets during the Awards at @pegsatthemovies

REVIEW: “HIDDEN FIGURES” (2016) 20th Century Fox

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Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), are more intelligent as children than most. But sadly, they have the wrong skin color for America of the 1960s, so educational opportunities aren’t as readily available to them as to most. And luckily for all of us, they don’t let it stop them.

“HIDDEN FIGURES” – written & directed by Theodore Melfi, is based on the true events of these three women’s accomplishments of beating the odds in a time when those odds were almost insurmountable. Although all three are working at NASA, they are widely under-ultilized, stuck in a mundane employee-temp circle with other African-American women. It is only when the ‘space-race’ heats up and NASA is concerned with the fact that Russia might beat us to manned space travel that they even get considered and their abilities are brought to light. But it is still a long journey to get from the temp pool to the point of where now-famed astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) had her double-check the numbers against a ‘new’ computer machine before his now-legendary orbit around the earth.
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The film does do well in summarizing the story and making the period of the early 60’s space-race look exciting. Melfi succeeds in revealing the perspective of the people who made it possible for a human being to be brought into an orbit were chiefly physicists and, above all, mathematicians. Making it truly special is the fact that three of these essential figures were not only women, but African-American women. In a time where different races were still strictly separated in everything from the bathrooms, to yes, even the coffee pot and how they had to fight not only to assert themselves into the circles of white, male-dominated NASA, but also with the colour of their skin.
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In addition, we have a decent supporting cast with Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell, head of the white secretarial pool and chief scientist, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), who while blind to all the bias at first, gradually begins to notice Johnson’s intelligence and how she is being treated by her white, male co-workers and steps up to the plate. Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Olek Krupa just to name a few, are great additions to the supporting cast.
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Performances are all above par here and not being Costner’s biggest fan, he comes off very well here in one of what is surely one of his more likeable performances. Hands down winner for me though is Octavia Spencer, who not only steals the show, along with hopefully not only a nomination, but a win from this performance.

Finally, do I think some liberties might have been taken here with the story-line or some of the characters, most likely, and it’s in these spots that the film lags, but it is also very simple to just look up history and see this is accurate in the frame of what these women did at/for NASA and what they went on to do in leading the way for so many to follow is even more impressive.

HIDDEN FIGURES is emotionally stirring cinema and should leave a lasting impression on viewers.

Grade: B
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Monday, November 21, 2016 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
In Limited Release: Sunday, December 25, 2016
NATIONWIDE RELEASE: Friday, January 6, 2017