2019 In Film Day 3: The Thoroughly Okay

Films too good to be meh, but not good enough for me to like them.

Alita: Battle Angel

At least it’s unique. The world-building for this is superb, especially in terms of visuals. It’s one of the best-looking films I saw. Plus I like to reward inventiveness in film, so why is this rated so low? I think it comes down to the lack of internal consistency. It features robots beating the hell out of each other, but you don’t know whether the hits are bad or not. Sometimes limbs get sliced off and they just get reattached like nothing happened, yet other times it ends up severely incapacitating them. So you have no idea whether to feel worried for characters until after the fact. It’s really frustrating to watch and means that you can never really lose yourself in the film as you’re constantly second-guessing whether things matter.

Original review here

+Rosa Salzer is perfect in it.

– Forgettable story.

Booksmart

I wanted to like this, I really did. It had a great cast and a lot of people I like enjoyed it. It seemed like the kind of thing I would love. But I just felt slightly underwhelmed by it. I think it is because the characters were slightly meh. The performances were okay (Kaitlyn Deaver, in particular, was perfect) but a lot of it seemed a bit too much like a Will Ferrell movie which couldn’t decide whether it wanted grounded characters or unbelievable ones so settled in a mediocre middle ground.

Original review here

+Very funny in parts

-Frustratingly paced at times

Fisherman’s Friends

Have you seen a heartwarming British film in the last few years? Then you’ve seen this. Yes it’s charming and heartwarming, but you’ve seen it all before. That’s the biggest problem, it brings absolutely nothing new to the screen. Unless this is the first film you’ve ever seen you won’t be surprised by any of it. The music is good (which is handy as the film depends on it) and the performances are fine. It just doesn’t do anything interesting enough to stand out in a very crowded genre.

Original review here

+So gosh darn delightful.

-Predictable

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Hey, this movie exists. I genuinely forgot I saw this film this year, I assumed it came out years ago. But nope, this year. It’s so forgettable, left almost zero impact on me. It’s a good thing I write notes otherwise I’d have no idea what to say. I mean, I still have no idea what to say without repeating myself, but still. The whole thing just feels so unnecessary, like I can’t imagine anybody feeling their life is better because this movie is in it.

Original review here

+It looks BEAUTIFUL

-Completely forgettable

If Beale Street Could Talk

This is a film that just wasn’t for me. I found the narrative frustrating in terms of the pacing. Characters appear and disappear with a frustrating lack of care for the audience. Also, there was WAY too much narration. At times it felt like it was treating the audience with contempt, feeling the need to spell everything out for us. This occasionally comes through in the story as well, things which we are told are then shown again and again and again, just to make sure we get it.

Original review here

+Very important film that is worth seeing

-Kind of dull

So that’s it. I know this was the shortest one, but a few got moved at the last minute during writing when I realised I liked them more than I thought I did.

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Do you have an interest in seeing this film? Then see it at the cinema. Trust me, this is a cinema film. You’ll get a lot more out of seeing this on a big screen than you will by sitting on your sofa watching it. This is spectacle cinema at it’s very best. And like most spectacle cinema, you do feel it’s lacking something though.

It’s not the performances, they’re all fantastic. All of them, and there’s a lot of them. I think it has so many characters as this film was made with an eye towards a sequel. I mean, with the ending this film has, it has to have a sequel otherwise the story will just be unfinished. Christoph Waltz actually seems charming and not-evil in this film, which I didn’t know he was capable of (off topic, if they do a remake of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, he’s Judge Doom). The star of the show is definitely Rosa Salazar, who is so damn impressive in this it’s hard to believe. The way they kind of animate her eyes is genius, a beautiful blend of reality and CGI which is an incredible use of the technology. It’s not being used to replace or create reality, but to work alongside it, which is a technique which always works better.

Now the downside; the big one is the plot is kind of generic. The romance sub-plot seems kind of forced. A lot of the dialogue is just explaining plot points and character motivations to the audience, some of which could have been done a lot more subtly. It’s tonally all over the place, going from a film that’s seemingly aimed at children, to a dog being slaughtered then having its blood used as war paint before saying “fuck mercy” and killing someone. It’s a 12A which features a character being chopped in half at the waist, not a robot, a human. I’m not sure if being chopped in half would kill a robot in this film as it’s incredibly inconsistent when it comes to things like that. Sometimes having a limb chopped off leads to them being severely weakened and makes them as good as dead, and sometimes they just walk it off like it doesn’t affect them. It makes the action scenes difficult to get invested in as after every hit you’re not sure how to react, did that cause immense damage, or does it not matter? You have no idea until AFTER each hit, there are no rules set to tell you which makes it incredibly frustrating.

I feel I need to mention the motorball sequences. They’re the action highlights of the film and make you want to see a film based around it (wait, that exists, it’s called Rollerball and the original is awesome), in fact, I would be genuinely surprised if there’s not a video game based on that sequence, and kind of disappointed.

So should you see it? I’d say yes. The visual world-building is top notch and film-making like this deserves to be rewarded. So go buy a ticket and see it at the cinema, even if you’re not blown away, I highly doubt you’ll regret it either.