Movie Reviews 2019

Alita: Battle Angel (PG13)
Mention the name James Cameron and you think of movies like The Terminator and Avatar in 3D. For nearly twenty years Cameron has wanted to make this Alita movie but he had to wait for the movie tech to catch up with the story. We’ve come a long way since those Roger Rabbit live actor/cartoon mixed movies became a thing. Alas, once the tech caught up, Cameron was too busy with the Avatar trilogy to tackle it.

So he let Robert Rodriguez direct it instead (with Cameron as producer). Rodriguez has directed such films as Planet Terror, Sin City, From Dust to Dawn etc. This would be considered one of his least eccentric films and certainly his highest budget.

It’s available in 3D but unless you’re drinking that Kool-Aid for kids 3D nonsense, save your money and see it in 2D. 3D is unnecessary for this film.

You do however need to keep in mind that this entire story is based on a Japanese comic book series. Doing so will help with your adult-sized suspension of belief. That and the knowledge that this takes place hundreds of years from now. Just look how far we’ve come tech-wise since the 70’s!

Now that we’ve tackled the tech end of it, the storyline goes like this:
Dr. Ido finds a human head in a massive rubbish heap located in Iron City below the floating, wealthy sky-city of Zalem. Apparently her head was dropped down from Zalem among all the other discarded trash. That makes her a trashy girl. (I couldn’t resist). Dr. Ido just happens to be a specialist in the art of melding human flesh to robotics. So after reassembling her severed head with the intact brain (don’t ask) to a cool robotic body, he names her Alita.

It seems a large percentage of the human population, at least on the ground in Iron City, are missing a lot of limbs. Why that is is never covered. Perhaps if I had read a stack of Alita manga comics for a couple weeks beforehand I would know the “obvious” answer. (Not happening).

Either way, it doesn’t hurt the story that so many people have artificial limbs. The tech is so good, and the new prosthetics so darn cool, you’d hardly qualify for a handicap sticker on your plates.

But it turns out that trashy Alita (sorry) has some real talent in the whoop-ass department. Think War-Department-Talent by way of long extinct forbidden tech. So she’s every biker gang’s dream girl. Interestingly enough, a biker kid does indeed take to her. There are some nice scenes between them as well as a couple corny ones.

Then there’s a futuristic version of the “other futuristic” Rollerball game - if Terminators (or Transformers) played Rollerball. They call it “Motorball” here to avoid visits from grinning lawyers, but let’s not kid ourselves. I was glad they didn’t overdo the robots-fighting-robots-playing-Rollerball aspect for too long, but it works well enough here. The superstar winner of that sport gets to live in luxury in the sky-city of Zalem. There’s also that crime element in Iron City that needs to be cleaned up. So plenty here for the writers to play with.

All in all it’s a fun two-hour ride that sure exploits the latest tech in moviemaking. We can’t be more than ten years away from human movie stars looking at unemployment. Who needs to pay Tom Cruise 70 million to do a movie if human-realistic animated characters can be created for far less?

No one’s more excited about that idea than the ugly Harvey Weinstein’s of the world.
- See it on the Big Screen
Dont Come Back From Moon
Don’t Come Back from the Moon (NR)
The photo above pretty much sums up the movie. Where do I even begin?

The premise is that the father figures leave town and never come back. I’m surprised the actors stuck around.

At the 20 minute mark the cameraman has finally consumed enough beer that he has become totally wasted and can no longer hold the camera still. At times he’s so drunk he can’t even keep the subject in the frame. Disastrous shaking.

In one scene a kid tries to catch an elusive pigeon that’s flying around in an abandoned house. I was thinking to myself that the actor would likely have an easier time capturing a wild bird than catching that darting camera filming the scenes.

The director also incorporates long MTV style montage shots to fill the monotonous time.

The Moon metaphor used in the story is weak.

Though the movie is set in today’s world, the kids watch an old black and white TV at home all day. In the U.S.? That’s just silly.

This movie is an empty box of crackers.
The Bouncer
The Bouncer (R)
John-Claude Van Damme.

He’s back in a French film with English subtitles. Here he plays a bouncer with seemingly no past. After accidentally causing a serious injury to an important club client (something I’m sure bouncers all over the world deal with all-too often) this incident lands him into deep trouble with the local police. By digging into his past they are able to turn him into a snitch, reappoint him as a bouncer in a strip club and tell him to root out a counterfeiting operation that’s going on behind the scenes.

A slow burn to be sure. But don’t let the idea of subtitles push you away from this dark, gritty tale. The dialog is sparse. You’re not supposed to talk a lot in shady underworld circles. Your waking hours are mostly running on a need to know basis. But Van Damme is perfect for the role and there’s enough steady tension, subdued throbbing techno music and underworld action to keep you thoroughly interested throughout.

One final note. For all the budding screenwriters out there, let’s be very clear. Hotel maids don’t leave their master room keys on their unattended service carts in the hallways. C’mon man!
- Wait for Rental
Rust Creek
Rust Creek (R)
A story about an 18-year-old girl headed to job interview who apparently has never seen a movie thriller or TV show in her life. She doesn’t know what lye is when told “it’s lye” or what a meth lab in the woods might look like. Sheltered would be an understatement. We know she wasn’t home-schooled so that’s not the excuse.

And like any millennial, she’s never seen a paper road map in her life but conveniently finds one in the glove box in 2019 after her GPS fails her. Uh-huh.

So with little knowledge about such things she runs away from two backwater thugs (think Deliverance-Town) into the woods and struggles as you might expect. Having zero knowledge about how damn noisy helicopters are doesn’t help matters as she yells up at a distant one as if the crew could possibly hear a cry for help below the trees a mile away. I can only hope that scene is far fetched.

Lucky for her a “woodsy hermit” (think meth lab guy, not Ted Kaczynski) comes to her aid and the cat and mouse game begins between the woodsy hermit and the town hillbillies.

If you start watching it you’ll be compelled to finish it. It’s that kind of movie. But do it from your comfy sofa.
- Wait for Rental
End of 2019 Movies.