11 February 2019

Her Heart Will Go On

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Alita: Battle Angel begins with Christoph Waltz finding a robotic head in a landfill site which is lucky for him. When I was a kid the most exciting thing that I found lying around was a porno mag in the bushes and the pictures in it were so rank that I think it actually set my development back a few years. But this film is set in the future where finding robot heads is apparently not a huge deal and I presume that porn mags have been replaced with a chip in your brain and some kind of sci-fi suction device. I'm not sure what kind of sci-fi suction device that might be but I reckon a robotic ladies head that you find in the dump might be a good starting place. From here, Waltz decides to give the lady's detached robotic head a body and bring her back to life which is pretty lucky for her. Most people are perverts and so realistically I think the closest to a body that most people would attach her head to would be a fucking anvil. If anything this film should be like a cross between Pinocchio and one of those documentaries about creepy men that become too attached to their sex dolls. Anyway, it turns out that the robot that Waltz names Alita is actually a three-hundred-year-old fighting machine. So she actually looks pretty good for an older lady considering that she's the same age and level of human that Jackie Stallone is.

In honesty, I can't say that I'm fully sure what the story was about? I know that some other angry cyborg people want to kill Alita but I honestly can't remember why? I remember that they all live under a giant floating city like in Elysium with the rich living above and the poor down below. Err.. Christoph Waltz basically just plays Christoph Waltz as usual, although rather than doing it in a Tarantino movie he's doing it in a film with a girl with big eyes again. Oh and there's a love story between Alita and some dim-witted clag-nut called Hugo. In honesty, and apart from the obvious bullshit with the narrative not really being the most focused, I think that Hugo and his romance might be the film's biggest problem. On paper, the two characters should work so well together because she's not got a human heart and from the way he acts I'm not entirely convinced that he has a human brain. At one point she asks him if it's okay for him to love her despite the fact that she's not all human. But if it was okay for Paul McCartney and Heather Mills to get married then I don't see why it should be a problem for these two in the future? It's just that in Alita's case the personality is real and the fake bit goes a little further up than the knee. Oh and considering that she is a cyborg she apparently has a heart that will go on and on so let's all be grateful that Cameron didn't think to get back in touch with Celine Dion for the fucking credit song.

However, there's just something about the romance that doesn't feel even remotely real which is ironic considering how good the special effects are in this film. Alita is the character that's been motion captured and given huge eyes and yet it's the perfectly human Hugo that has the uncanny valley problem. Lucky it's the special effects of her and the world around her that save the film and make it as enjoyable as I thought it was, though. Originally this film was conceived as being exclusively a James Cameron project with his intention being to direct it as well as write the script. But by the time he was able to make it, his Avatar film was ready to go and Cameron essentially had to decide which of the two films he wanted to make. So he basically had to pick between making a film about a girl with big bulging eyes like she's being drowned in a swamp or a girl with cold blue skin as though she has been drowned in a swamp. Obviously, he went for the one about animal-shagging aliens with director Robert Rodriguez being given the reigns to take over this film. Because if you need somebody to take over a giant sci-fi epic that was initially going to be from the director of The Terminator and Aliens then I can't think of anybody more qualified than the director of the Spy Kids Quadrology.

In honesty, I'm being pretty harsh on him as I'm actually a huge fan of the way Rodriguez makes films in his own studio in Texas in order to retain his independent spirit. It's just a shame that despite this, most of his films are still pretty shit. It does actually make some degree of sense to have him make this film though as, if Desperado is anything to go by, he really does know how to do action. And the action in this movie is pretty fucking fun to watch. He also claimed that he wanted to make the film to feel as though James Cameron had made it which would be the second time that he's directed in the style of somebody else after his Sin City films. Let's not forget too how much he might be able to relate to the cyborg character of Alita herself after he gained the funds for his first film El Mariachi by donating himself to medical science and writing the script from his fucking hospital bed. Alita: Battle Angel is now in the upper half of films he's made simply because of the spectacle of its visuals and action and so ironically it was James Cameron's convoluted script that helped to fuck the whole thing up. By the final twenty minutes, Alita becomes the film that refuses to end with scenes literally repeating themselves on a loop like a broken robot after it's received a crowbar to the head.

Perhaps there is one other reason to like this film though and that is Alita herself and the performance from Rosa Salazar. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul and in her case, that window is like a fucking French patio. Despite not being given too much depth, Salazar really does sell the fact that her character is still human with the giant eyes presumably keeping you focused on her performance and away from her often exposed robo-tits. It is interesting to note the lack of controversy that there seems to have been in terms of the lack of Asian actors in this manga adaptation though. I appreciate that the original story wasn't specifically set in Japan and that there is a pretty multi-cultural cast here to a degree. But the complete lack of any lead Asian actors seems like it should have been addressed? I guess it's only a problem when the twitter mob decides it's one, although if I was the director of the live-action Ghost In The Shell, I think I'd be trying my best to stir shit up. At one point Jai Courtney turns up which is never a good sign considering how terrible an actor he is and how shit almost all of his films are. As soon as we see him though he's basically gone and we never see or hear from his character again. So I think that might be how controversy was avoided and why I think I liked this film. It might not be a masterpiece but at least it doesn't have Jai Courtney in a leading role. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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