Alita: Battle Angel – Film Review

This is one brilliant film. Set five hundred years in the future, in a post apocalyptic world. Well not post nuclear, but post interplanetary war. 

All the remains of humanity crammed into the partial ruins of a skyscraper’d city below a tether’d, cut off and unreachable sky city up above.

There are borrowed elements. Rollerball is a big feature. The Island, where the lucky winner has the chance to break out of the dystopian stew and go to an imagined paradise.

There is a shadowy evil overlord controlling all the minions on the Earth city like a whack job puppet master, eerily played by Edward Norton.

In to this cyberpunk world of mechanised cyborgs,  Rollerball heroes, and hunter killer bounty hunters comes the beautiful Alita.

Her father, one third Dr Jekyll, one third Baron Frankenstein, one third Mother Teresa, builds her from scrap parts discarded by Sky city as a replacement daughter.

Alita, the girl cyborg is amazing. Intelligent, independent, capable, she is on the most important journey of all. The journey to discover herself.

The visual architecture of the dystopian world, the fight scenes, special effects, the great cast of characters go to make this an incredible film. Amazing Sci Fi action for a new generation, and concealed within it a powerful feeling, an understanding that will inspire that generation.

It’s brilliant and I loved it. 

Copyright © Jhedron Luckspar 2019

Checker Board

She looked at the square tiles on the wall and the checker board pattern on the floor and they made her smile.

It had all started ironically in a wood late at night. That was when they had met. They were there, right there, at the beginning. 

She had been a student at film school. She had loved the movies, and growing up as a child had spent her private hours making shorts, putting on shows for her family, sending off her work to competitions and festivals, looking for a lucky break.

She had been able to choose a film school, and she had picked the best.

It was her friend Lisa who had seen the note on the student notice board. It was a common thing. There was always someone in the school with a project, looking for actors, technicians or just extras for a crowd.

This was a bunch of radicals shooting a horror flick in the woods. It was held to be ground breaking, the whole thing shot on hand held cams. Lots of jerky motion and raw realism.

That’s where she had met Peter. He wasn’t even in the movies. He was just a friend of a friend, drafted in to run around the woods at night, getting gored up, having a crack.

They had met over a cup of tea in polystyrene cups. Huddled together in the back of an old van, Billy the director, had borrowed for the night. It had been Love at first sight. 

That was twenty years ago. It had been twenty years of blissful marriage. She had gone on to be a successful filmmaker. Arty low budget films that drew respect in the industry and won prizes at small film festivals. They often got included at Sundance and even Cannes back in ’09.

Peter went on to develop a very successful Architects practice and she always thought they were the perfect couple.

It was ironic, because that film shot in the woods had gone on to be a worldwide hit. It created a whole genre of grainy films shot on hand held cams. 

Being an eminent if low key film-maker, she often was on judging committees for festivals. She watched a lot of movies, some of them inspired, occasionally dreadful, but mostly entertaining enough. After all it couldn’t be any better than this. Not only did she do what she loved, making films, she got paid for watching them too. Life doesn’t get any better.

She had her own private cinema in the basement of the house. She spent a lot of time down here watching the films they sent her. She loved the old days when she wound the spools of film into her projector, but now it was all digital.

She settled down with a lovely bottle of dry white wine, and pressed play.

This was the third film she had seen this week that used that slightly shaky handheld technique. She found it rather passé. It was not a technique she ever used, but she always felt a slight frisson of excitement when she thought back to that film in the woods long ago. It certainly hadn’t hurt her career to be associated with a revolutionary block buster.

This film was shot from the perspective of an, as yet, unknown character. She recognised the location. A famous metro station in Paris with art on the walls. She had been there many times with Peter. At one time they had even had an apartment in that district of Paris.

Nothing much was happening, a few drunks on a bench on the opposite platform were raucously singing an old French ballad, popular ten years ago. Then that rumble and rush of air that preceded the arrival of a train.

The camera waited for the train to stop and the doors to open. She realised this take was just being shot on the fly. The camera took the audience onto a normal looking subway train and turned right. A punk with a scarlet quiff and a tartan jacket, sat vacantly in the first seat, lost in whatever music he was listening to, but as the camera focused a few rows back, her heart seemed to miss a beat in her chest, and her numb fingers let go of her wine glass, which unnoticed spilled its expensive contents on her carefully chosen fabrics.

In a daze she wandered up to the kitchen. She looked at the shining rack of Sabatier knives. Not quite right. She remembered that time in the woods. She remembered the feel of the hammer. Her hand seemed to reach for the meat tenderiser of its own volition.

Like a wraith she made her way up the thickly carpeted stairs. Numb to everything all she could see was Peter and Lisa side by side in the metro carriage. Lisa had aged well. Still a beautiful woman, her silken lips whispered silently into Peter’s ear.

Pushing open the bedroom door, she silently entered the room.  Peter, always so perfect. She stood by the bed watching the rise and fall of his chest, his handsome face.

Tightly holding the handle of the tenderiser behind her back she brushed her fingers lovingly on his cheek, whispering, “Peter, darling.”

She watched his eyes open sleepily, smiling with love as he focused on her face.

She didn’t even cry out as she brought the checker board pattern down onto his forehead with all her might. That was what she remembered. The regular squares embedded in his forehead. 

By the time they had found her the tenderiser had done its work, the beautiful patterns obliterated. Still she appreciated the images. Focusing back on the tiles of her new home, she was looking forward to creating the juxtaposition of squares when she came to film it.

Copyright © Jhedron Luckspar 2019

Image by Jazella from Pixabay



Rogue One

A straight forward fight between good and evil. This film is magnificent. I had forgotten how good it was and was only really watching it to tweak my new home cinema sound system.

It’s hard to believe that Star Wars is forty years old. No video, dvd or internet in those days. I missed the first film even though my sister was an ucherette at the local cinema. I caught Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back on a double bill, sat on the front row of the balcony, in one of the old giant screen cinemas, all now long gone. I was never the same again.

Rogue One as I’m sure you already know is the immediate prequel to Eposode 4. A small band of rebels who strive to steal the plans of the Death Star that Princess Leah is taking to the Alliance and conceals on R2D2.

If you haven’t by some miracle seen it yet I won’t be giving away the plot. It’s heroic, brilliantly portrayed by an inspired collection of previously little known actors in the central roles. It’s got George Lucas’ name on it and if I was him I would be so proud of this film. It really rocks. It’s Star Wars but without the quirky, goofy humour that we all love, and actually all the better for it.

The strength of the film lies in it’s solid plot. It’s a stand alone story woven within the fabric of Lucas’ epic masterpieces. There are great characters especially the central six.

There are also main characters from the original film cleverly intertwined to tie it all together. Brilliant.

At the end I was connected and you can’t ask more than that.

They keep on making the films. I thought the last sequel was brilliant too. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for great entertainment, but of course, it’s so much more.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s great. If you have and it’s been a while, it’s worth seeing again.

Thank you to Faramond Frie for his great artwork.

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is a fantastic film. The original was ground breaking. Based on Phillip K Dick’s, “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep,” it was the great cyberpunk world of sleazy streets and magnificent architecture set in a future Los Angeles of flying cars and deep space exploration.

Made in 1982 it was a brilliant multilayered film of film noir, Dashiell Hammett type detective, Science Fiction, beautifully ambient, with the story of the human condition and the gift of life told through the experiences of a small group of androids, or human replicants, who had a four year life span and were fighting their mortality. A complex and intelligent film that the studio forced director, Ridley Scott, to put a commentary voice over, so that the less sophisticated cinema audiences might know what the hell was going on. Blade Runner was a film that inspired a generation.

So quite a lot to live up to. I rewatched the original the week before, thankfully the directors cut, long ago restored to it’s original glory.

The first twenty minutes were a surprise. A step away from the Los Angeles of the future. A little slow as the plot was developing, I was starting to panic. Still, no need to worry. We were soon catapaulted back to that steamy Los Angeles world. That mix of back street Hong Kong or Shanghai, replicant prostitutes, street markets selling robotic parts and organs. That mixture of flying cars and pedal bikes. If you have ever taken a taxi ride in Cairo at night it is full of fast moving images. Beautiful, amazing and scary all at the same time. All the cars driving as fast as they can, like around the Arc De Triomphe in Paris, but with no head lights, dodging, camels, donkeys, carts, pedestrians and all the other completely insane drivers. When you arrive at your destination unscathed it is like being reborn.

The greatest of Science Fiction uses it’s world as the backdrop to tell a great story. Scott’s dystopian world is the stage for a new complex twisting plot that continues and builds on the original story of 2019, now thirty years in the future. I thought it was very well done and I left the cinema feeling lifted, entertained and inspired.

You can’t ask more than that. Harrison Ford, bringing back the role of Deckard was brilliant. Perhaps this film will inspire a new generation. It should do. I hope so.

The Hobbit – Battle of the Five Armies – Film Review

bilbo

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

Tonight I watched the final film of The Hobbit.

Absolutely fantastic.

I would imagine like many authors of Sci Fi / Fantasy I was a Lord Of The Rings nut. Read the book a lot when I was young. Taped each episode off the BBC radio production in 1979/80 and listened to it over and over again, to be replaced in time by CDs and mp3. And, of course, the films were fantastic and the extended versions even more so.

 So when I heard The Hobbit was to be made in three films, like everyone, I was surprised. The second film dragged a bit in places but the scenes with Smaug and in Mirkwood were incredible.
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The latest one is just incredible. Who cares if it plays fast and loose with the characters and plot.
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Smaug’s conversation with Bard the Dragon Slayer is breath taking and the special effects, scenery, architecture and fight sequences are just so exciting and beautiful and awesome. It wasn’t perfect, occassionally a tiny detail could of been better, but overall I was in awe. The action sequences are electrifying and just keep on coming, never stopping the quality. I think the best fight scenes ever, although the sequence in Balin’s Tomb in the extended version of Fellowship Of The Ring take some beating.
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Martin Freeman is truly brilliant. His acting career has gone from strength to strength, and Peter Jackson gives him some great lines. Also fine performances by Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, Luke Evans as Bard the Dragon Slayer, Evangeline Lilly and Aidan Turner as the romancing elf and dwarf, a surprising and entertaining performance by Billy Connolly, and a marvellous voicing of Smaug by Benedict Cumberbatch.
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I was talking to a good friend before the film and he hasn’t seen the Hobbit films and didn’t care for Lord Of The Rings.
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I suppose you love it or don’t. Clearly I’m not a professional film critic but I watch a lot of films. This one’s fantastic. It’s loosely based on the book and much more tied to The Lord Of The Rings especially character wise. But, as I have said, who cares? Unless you are a dyed in the wool purist, if you like Tolkien you are going to love this film.
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