Tag Archives: Ed Skrein

Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
Rosa Salazar as Alita
Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ido
Mahershala Ali as Vector
Keean Johnson as Hugo
Jennifer Connelly as Chiren
Ed Skrein as Zapan
Jackie Earle Haley as Grewishka
Director: Robert Rodriguez

Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita (Rosa Salazar) is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido (Christoph Walt), a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.

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Alita: Battle Angel is a movie I had been hearing about for a while, mainly about how it was based on an manga and the lead actress had motion capture to make her eyes bigger to make her look like the lead character from the source material. Aside from that I really didn’t look too much into the movie. As it started to get close to its release date however, I started to pay attention to it, and I was starting to look forward to it. It has a cast involving Christoph Waltz and Mahershala Ali, James Cameron is producing it, Robert Rodriguez is directing it and at the very least, it looked very visually entertaining. Alita: Battle Angel was better than I thought it would be. It suffers from some problems (mainly the sequel baiting) but on the whole I liked it.

Alita is based on a manga series that I haven’t read but I’ve heard it has a following. I was really wrapped up with this story and the world that it existed in. There is a lot of worldbuilding and for the most part I really liked it. One of the biggest things to note is that this is clearly setting up for future movies and you can feel that throughout the entirety of the movie. For the first two acts it feels like it’s the first half of a movie, I was still on board with what was going on, it’s just that it feels like we should’ve progressed much further in the overall story than we did. With that said, compared to some other movies that try to do a ton of worldbuilding in their first movie, Alita actually does it alright. There is some exposition that just flew completely past me and I didn’t process everything that was set up, however I was able to follow the main story. It also does some sequel baiting and is really relying on the assumption that it will receive some sequels to continue the rest of the story. With that it feels like it’s restraining itself to have this movie cover up to a certain point in the story because other movies would cover later portions of the plot. With that it does make me think that it should’ve been longer, it’s surprisingly only 2 hours long.

Rosa Salazar was perfect in the titular role of the cyborg Alita. You immediately like her when she first appears and she just has such an on screen presence, convincing in both her innocence and in how capable and dangerous she is. She goes through some development over the course of the movie and she was one of the strongest parts of the movie. The rest of the cast is also good. Christoph Waltz is well suited in his role as the scientist who puts Alita back together (best performance I’ve seen from him in a while) and Jennifer Connelly is also good in her role. Mahershala Ali is one of the best actors working right now and here he gets to chew the scenery as one of the villains, it’s not one of his best performances by any means but he plays his role well despite not getting much to do here. The cybernetic villains really get to show off more, with both Ed Skrein and Jackie Earle Haley working well as formidable adversaries for Alita in motion captured roles. The weakest link in the cast was Keean Johnson, but I don’t think it’s necessarily him that’s the problem, it’s more his character and the whole romantic subplot with Alita. Sequel baiting aside, that romantic subplot was the weakest part of the movie, it follows very familiar beats and isn’t entirely convincing, it just feel really forced. I’ve seen it done worse in other movies, it’s just that it really sticks out in this movie when everything else is really good. Thankfully certain reveals at least give his character more to work with than just being the love interest. There are also surprisingly brief appearances from some known actors in the movie. I looked up the cast list after watching and there were some names that I recognised, which was even more surprising since I didn’t notice them in their roles in the movie. Some of them appear in a couple scenes at most. A couple are full on cameos and don’t appear for more than 10 seconds, one of them was quite jarring and was in the middle of the movie. The other was at the end of the movie, in a key role who is clearly going to be heavily involved with the future movies (if they are going to happen). The cameo is also from an underrated but recognisable actor and if the sequels do get made, I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

Robert Rodriguez directed Alita really well, it is really worth seeing in the cinema because it’s a stunning looking movie, Bill Pope really shot this really well. Any time there’s an action scene, it’s fantastic, it’s fast, it’s brutal, and these scenes are among the best moments of the film. Battle Angel can also be surprisingly violent despite it’s PG-13/M rating, there are decapitations and limbs being sliced off and it’s very effective and I loved watching that. Alita does seem to have the upper hand in each situation she’s in (at least in this movie) however it’s directed in such a way that you still feel quite a bit of tension as the people she’s up against seem incredibly dangerous. The visual effects are really good as to be expected but the practical sets and effects are also worth praising, they really have designed this world very well and put a lot of thought into it. Much of the designs are creative and exaggerated which fit this world that they created. As for the motion capture on Rosa Salazar for Alita, it actually works pretty well, you get used to the design very quickly. The score by Tom Holkenborg/Junkie XL is among one of his best, fitting the movie very well and particularly shines during the action scenes.

Alita: Battle Angel is a visually stunning, entertaining and all around solid cyberpunk movie, led by a fantastic performance by Rosa Salazar. I really do think it’s worth seeing, especially in the cinema. Even if you don’t like the story, it’s worth seeing for the visuals alone. I really hope we get to see the sequels, there’s a lot that they set up here and there’s a lot of potential for this series to be truly great.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
KiKi Layne as Clementine “Tish” Rivers
Stephan James as Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt
Regina King as Sharon Rivers
Teyonah Parris as Ernestine Rivers
Colman Domingo as Joseph Rivers
Brian Tyree Henry as Daniel Carty
Ed Skrein as Officer Bell
Emily Rios as Victoria Rogers
Michael Beach as Frank Hunt
Aunjanue Ellis as Mrs. Hunt
Ebony Obsidian as Adrienne Hunt
Dominique Thorne as Sheila Hunt
Finn Wittrock as Hayward
Diego Luna as Pedrocito
Pedro Pascal as Pietro Alvarez
Dave Franco as Levy
Director: Barry Jenkins

In early 1970s Harlem, daughter and wife-to-be Tish (KiKi Layne) vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together, but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

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If Beale Street Could Talk has been a movie I’ve been meaning to see for a while and it’s partly the reason why I have been holding off on making my favourite films of 2018 list. The main standout part was that it comes from Barry Jenkins, the writer/director behind Moonlight, an excellent film that rightfully won Best Picture of that year. I had been hearing so many great things about his latest film and I am so glad I waited to see it. I had a great amount of anticipation for If Beale Street Could Talk, and yet it blew me away, it was absolutely phenomenal.

Like with Moonlight, the film was written by Barry Jenkins, this time it’s based on a book of the same name by James Baldwin, however you can really feel that this is a Jenkins movie. It’s actually pretty difficult to explain why If Beale Street Can Talk works as well as it does, however I’ll do my best. Everything about the writing, from the story, to the dialogue and the characters feels so incredibly real and genuine, you really feel like you’re watching a real story with real people. You just get so emotionally invested with the characters. Yes, given the premise you’d be right to say that it’s quite melancholic at some points, because it is, given that it’s surrounding a black man being put in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit. However it’s not just one big long depressing watch, it feels very natural and human, with happy moments, humorous moments, sad moments and the like. Honestly the only thing about the movie that I might take issue with might be that there’s a scene where we get to see the families of both Tish and Fonny, and while we get a brief look at the family dynamics, we don’t get a dive enough into the conflicts beyond that one scene, it’s a very minor nitpick however and isn’t that big of a problem. The movie ends on a bit of an open note, but it was the perfect ending for the film.

There are a lot of actors involved with the movie and they all do a great job, no matter how big or little their roles are. KiKi Layne and Stephan James play the leads of Tish and Fonny, and they are really great. We only get some glimpses into their romance in the time before Fonny is arrested, however in the moments we get, they are very believable together and their chemistry is truly great. Often times when it comes to a romance movie, even if it gets most aspects well, I would feel very underwhelmed if I’m not truly invested in the lead relationship. Thankfully, Beale Street’s central romance works excellently. Layne is particularly wonderful in her role as the central lead, definitely deserving of a lot of praise. Regina King is really great as Tish’s mother, I can see why she’s the frontrunner to win Best Supporting Actress at this upcoming Oscars. Brian Tyree Henry is also briefly in the movie as a friend of Stephen James and while he’s not in a lot of scenes, he is a standout in his screentime. The rest of the cast were all really good. Even those who show up for a scene or two, whether that be Dave Franco, Diego Luna, Pedro Pascal or Ed Skrein, they do great jobs at making themselves memorable for their screentime, and not necessarily just because you recognise them.

Barry Jenkins once again directs absolutely wonderfully here, like with his writing you can definitely tell this is a Jenkins film from his direction. Everything is so perfectly put together. I also noticed that there were plenty of visual storytelling moments, they are very sublte and small, and not a lot happens, but they tell so much. It’s a beautiful looking movie, with James Laxton’s great cinematography really adding a tremendous amount to the movie and at times really giving it a dreamlike vibe. That vibe is also helped by the score composed by Nicolas Britell, which was great.

If Beale Street Could Talk is fantastic and one of the all time best films of 2018. It’s a heartfelt and emotional movie, it’s perfectly written, the performances are great and Barry Jenkins’s direction was fantastic. I am absolutely astounded that despite floating around multiple film awards, it was shut out for Best Picture, had it been nominated this year it would’ve been my pick for it. I’m not sure how it ranks against Moonlight, I’ll need to rewatch it to be sure, but If Beale Street Could Talk is still a fantastic film on its own and is an absolute essential watch.

Deadpool (2016) Review

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Deadpool

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic Violence, Sex Scenes, Offensive Language
Cast
Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool
Morena Baccarin as Vanessa
Ed Skrein as Ajax
T.J. Miller as Weasel
Gina Carano as Angel Dust
Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Director: Tim Miller

This is the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

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Deadpool was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. I’ll admit I didn’t know much about Deadpool, I had heard of him and I knew the general idea of his character but I haven’t read comic books of him or watched any shows or movies featuring him (I don’t think X Men Origins Wolverine counts). Having seen this movie though, I want to watch and read everything Deadpool related, this movie immediately made me a fan of him. From the writing, to the acting and the excellent direction from newcomer Tim Miller, Deadpool is one of the best superhero films I’ve seen in a while.

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The movie is very well written, from the opening credits, you know what sort of film you’re going into. As you could probably tell, this movie was very funny, whether it be fourth wall jokes, the dialogue, the characters or when it takes shots as certain things outside the movie, even Ryan Reynolds’s career, including Green Lantern and X-Men Origins Wolverine. Another great thing is that you actually care about what’s going on, one of my main concerns going in was that it would just be an action comedy superhero movie and it would be just Deadpool being cool and funny, with no real emotional weight to the film, but it definitely has that. By the way, there is an end credit scene, so make sure you wait until the end.

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Ryan Reynolds absolutely is Deadpool, he is as much Deadpool as Robert Downey Jr is as Iron Man or Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Like I said earlier with the emotional weight, Reynolds also shows off his dramatic chops as well as his comedic ones. The supporting actors also did good jobs. Morena Baccarin plays Wade Wilson’s girlfriend and I thought that she did a really good job, she shared great chemistry with Reynolds and the love story between the two actually worked for the film, it added to it in fact. The film also features two X Men, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, both who were great in their roles. A fair criticism that some may have is that the villains, Ajax (Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust (Gina Carano aren’t that well developed. I thought that they worked for the plot and the actors did good jobs with what they had, particularly Ed Skrein, who looks like he’s having a great time as the villain. Also Stan Lee has quite possibly the best cameo he’s ever had.

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The action scenes were fast paced and well filmed. The film’s budget is definitely lower than most other comic book movies but it still was used very effectively. The CGI was also used effectively when it was needed, such as in the case of Colossus, who was a fully CGI character. The soundtrack which includes tracks by the very talented Junkie XL was also great.

DEADPOOL Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) pounces on an adversary. Photo Credit: Joe Lederer TM & © 2015 Marvel & Subs.  TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All rights reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

Deadpool was a really great superhero movie. From Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, to the fantastic script and Tim Miller’s direction, every element works. Deadpool is one of the best comic book movies made and in my opinion is up there with Sin City in terms of the most accurate comic book character adaptations. Definitely check out Deadpool when you get a chance. If any of the other 5 superhero movies this year are as good as Deadpool, 2016 will be one of the best years for superhero movies.