Category Archives: Movies

Cyperpunk Dystopian Matrix Movies and Films

NSFW animated anthology Love, Death & Robots coming to Netflix

It’s being hailed as “the next best thing since the Animatrix”, and judging by the cut-up slices of what we can glimpse from the trailer, I believe it. The Animatrix was revolutionary and visionary, an amazing mix of different artists and different views connected by the unifying theme of The Matrix as subject content. Love, Death & Robots looks like it’s less thematically connected, but it’s taking the animated anthology concept to the next level, and finding the proper home it deserves on Netflix. Coming from Tim Miller (Deadpool, Terminator: Dark Fate) and David Fincher (Mindhunter), the anthology promises “sentient dairy products, werewolf soldiers, robots gone wild, garbage monsters, cyborg bounty hunters, alien spiders and blood-thirsty demons from hell – all converge in 18 NSFW animated stories”.

Check out the teaser trailer for yourself and get back to me, because it’s that good. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiUARnClx80

Take a look at the variety of different formats here! Just like in Animatrix, we have 2D and 3D formats in both anime and full CGI. Apparently the full list will include 5-15 minute segments broaching the topics of racism, government, war, free will, and human nature, and provided from filmmakers from Hungary, France, Canada, Korea, and more. The anthology will be made available on Netflix March 15th, so this is the next Cyberpunk media content to put on your calendars after seeing Battle Angel Alita this weekend!

http://collider.com/love-death-and-robots-trailer-netflix/

 

Alita: Battle Angel Review

Alita: Battle Angel is the latest blockbuster Cyberpunk movie to hit the theaters, and is based on a Manga of the same name, also called GUNNM, and was a project in the works from producer James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar) for over 10 years! He had to put the project on the backburner as he worked on many different films during that time, eventually handing off the directing duties to Robert Rodriguez (Sin City). After a long and laborious production involving a lot of cgi work and concept design, Alita was finally ready and its trailers started rolling out last February for a July release. However, its release date was pushed back to December, and then finally to February 14th in the US, with a later release slated for February 22nd for most of the Asian market.

Alita: Battle Angel follows the story of Alita, a cyborg with a human brain, who is found dismembered in a pile of rubbish by cyborg scientist Dr. Ido. Ido decides to give Alita a new robot body, and since she has no memories of who she is or what happened to her, Ido takes her in and gives her the name Alita after his own deceased daughter. Alita soon realizes that she has military instincts and training, and this leads her onto a path of discovery for who she is, as well as fighting the many injustices that she sees along the way. The story takes place in Iron City, a futuristic dystopian city filled with lawlessness and crime, which is located underneath the wealthy city of Zalem that floats above. Only the rich can live in Zalem, and most of the people who live below in Iron City dream to try to live up in the clouds one day too.

Because of the incredible visuals that James Cameron is known for (Avatar), and the cyberpunk elements of martial arts fighting (guns are outlawed in Iron City) and a wide array of cyborgs and cyber-enhancements, I was really looking forward to watching this movie. To prepare me for the movie and get acquainted with the material, I also watched the 1993 anime movie that was based off of the original manga, which I found to be excellent as well.

So after over a year of waiting, I was finally able to go see Alita: Battle Angel opening night last Wednesday, and wow, it definitely did not disappoint.

Sure enough, Alita’s visuals are stunning. I remember trying to soak in all the details in the first few frames as the viewer is introduced to Iron City in all its busy, gritty glory. Much to my surprise, the entire movie is surprisingly bright, especially compared to other cyberpunk films like Ghost in the Shell or The Matrix. This is because, at least at first, most of the film happens during the day since Ido warns Alita that she must be home by curfew because “the city is too dangerous at night”. As a result, the viewer is able to really take in all that is Iron City, which features a variety of people of all races and levels of cyber-enhancements, as well as a plethora of bright contrasting colors of storefronts and ads cobbled together in a style somewhat reminiscent to Blade Runner if it weren’t raining all the time and had clear bright skies.

A lot of people have complained, both from the trailers and from the movie itself, that Alita’s eyes are too big and distracting, creepy even. I personally did not feel this was true, and felt her eyes never distracted or detracted, especially considering the original manga had her with big eyes and that never bothered me either. Rosa Salazar does an excellent job here personifying Alita and working with the CGI rig to truly bring the character to life, and I’m glad she had James Cameron as producer on the project to make sure she had a good script to work with. Christoph Waltz also does an excellent job of playing Dr. Ido, with a very nice added nuance to his character instead of being a boring flat father figure. I was personally very excited to see Mahershala Ali play Vector, the crime boss of Iron City, especially because I’ve seen him do great work in Luke Cage and the visuals of his outfit and mirrorshades looked epic. Although he did a great job, especially personifying two people at times as an implant that allows communication from someone in Zalem occasionally takes over, I wish he had been given more time to do more with his character. Due to him alternating between the two characters, I felt his original character could have been more fleshed out.

The action is excellent, and not only does Alita have some impressive moves using martial arts fighting with her fights against a variety of cyborgs, but also the action in the Rollerball games, which is something that appeared in the manga but not in the adapted animated film. Rollerball feels like a combination of Mad Max and Speed Racer but using roller skates, it was very original and a lot of fun. And although Alita does seem overpowered in some scenes, in others one can see that she’s not only a good fighter, but a clever one, and that was really great to see as well.

There isn’t much I can think of to fault this movie. There is a very powerful scene near the end that connects with the audience emotionally, that was also featured in the film so I was prepared but also glad that they kept it in. The movie’s ending also felt like it could be enough to wrap up the movie, or serve as a proper lead to future sequels, which is why I’m hoping the movie will be successful enough to allow the sequels to happen. Since this movie was one of the last, if not the last, film produced by 20th Century Fox before they complete the process of being acquired by Disney, it remains to be seen how Disney decides to work with their newly acquired material. Although some have been worried about Disney potentially quashing creative freedoms, I feel that Disney’s done a good enough job with Marvel and Star Wars to deserve my trust.

The soundtrack also worked very well with this movie, and although this movie doesn’t wax very philosophical, there are a lot of powerful themes this movie touches on (such as issues of weath inequality, identity, corruption and morality), it does a solid job presenting them along with its excellent world-building and character development, which is no easy feat.

As a result, I give this movie a 9.5/10. It is definitely worth seeing, and for hardcore cyberpunk fans, I suspect this may be the beginning of a new trilogy that along with Netflix’s Altered Carbon may continue setting the standard for modern-day cyberpunk to come.

 

 

Replicas: New Upcoming Cyberpunk film with Keanu Reeves to release this month

When I wrote in November  that Battle Angel: Alita was the next upcoming Cyberpunk film to watch out for, I wasn’t expecting to learn about another big Cyberpunk film that was flying under my radar a month later. But sure enough, here it is: Replicas is the newest new Cyberpunk film to look out for, releasing on the quickly approaching date of January 11th in the United States. An American film from Entertainment Studios, Replicas stars Cyberpunk legend Keanu Reeves, who helped with the production.

The story centers around the efforts of Neuroscientist William Foster to bring his wife and children back to life after they die in a terrible car crash. He tries to do so using cloning and digitizing their consciousnesses into robot bodies, something that is illegal and leads to him being pursued by the government, if the trailer is any indication.

There hasn’t been much news on this film yet, directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (writer for The Day After Tomorrow and The Tourist), and I’m trying to steer away from any reviews before I see it. But this film looks like it will be a fast-paced thriller and something will assuredly go wrong, as it always does in Cyberpunk tales. I’m excited to see Keanu Reeves in a Cyberpunk film again, since I’ve only been seeing him in various kinds of action flicks of late (John Wick, the Man of Tai Chi).

You can check out the trailer and see for yourself if this will be worth the watch here.

 

 

The Next Big Cyberpunk Movie: Alita, Battle Angel

Alita, Battle Angel is an upcoming Cyberpunk movie from producer James Cameron and Jon Landau (Titanic), with director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, From Dusk Until Dawn). The screenplay is written by Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis (Altered Carbon), and takes its source material from Yukito Kishiro’s manga Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita). You may have seen the trailer to this movie in the theaters earlier this summer, when it was supposed to be released in July. However, its release was delayed until December of 2018, and then sadly further delayed to February 14th, 2019. The exact reason of these delays in release are unclear, but it seems like it has to do with Cameron’s conflict working on his Avatar sequels (he’s filming Avatar 2 and 3 right now, set to release December 2020 and December 2021, respectively). The other reason is because Fox decided to push back its release in order to make way for Deadpool 2’s PG-release that conflicted with the same release date. Personally, I have been looking forward to this movie release for a long time, so I was very sad to hear that they pushed it back even further, especially considering Deadpool 2 has already been out for a while.

I had never heard of the manga Battle Angel Alita before, but I must say,  the trailer for the movie looks excellent and very promising. Alita is a film about a cyborg who awakens with no memory of her past or who she is, in a world she doesn’t recognize. A compassionate doctor and scientist takes her in and tries to shield her from her past. However, the world comes beckoning when it becomes apparent that she has unique fighting abilities that are deemed very valuable. Her subsequent actions lead her on an adventure of hope and empowerment as she tries to survive and find her place in this new world.

The cast includes Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ido, Alita’s character and apparent father figure, and Rosa Salazar (Divergent series, Maze Runner series) as the titular cyborg heroine, portraying Alita with motion capture technology. Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelly were also cast. There had been some controversy with the first trailer release, namely centering on the complaint that Alita’s eyes in the trailer seemed too big with the CGI effect, making her seem unrealistic and off. However, I saw no problem with them at all, as the eyes serve as a subtle reminder that Alita is not completely human.

Fast-paced action including CGI effects and impressive choreography and martial arts, existential questions on the blurred line between human and machine, this movie looks very promising indeed and has a lot of elements that remind me of my all-time favorite film, The Matrix. None of which is more apparent than the cyberpunk dystopian setting the film is placed in, and the epic mirrorshades actor Mahershala Ali sports in the trailer.

Check out these trailers and see what you think. The first is the initial trailer that caused the original controversy, the second is improved in my opinion and tells a bit more.

Trailer 1

Trailer 2

 

 

Next Gen: Review

This movie came up on my radar about a month ago, thanks to Netflix’s advertising on their own website since it’s a Netflix original. Somehow I knew that I would like this movie, and had been eagerly awaiting its release. Well, folks, it finally came out yesterday, and I must say, it didn’t disappoint. Next Gen is a charming children’s cyberpunk tale about humanity and adolescence woven through the narrative of robots and machines.

The story is about a young girl called Mai who was part of a happy family until one day her father gets into an argument with her mother and decides to leave. This causes a lot of anger and angst in the young girl, who grows up to become a rebellious teen. Her mother decides to get a robot to fill the space that her father left, but this results in her mother loving robots while Mai despises them because of how they can never replace a proper human.

In case you’re worried this is ruining the movie, have no fear. Mai’s entire backstory is told wordlessly at the beginning of the movie alongside the movie credits, which was an interesting artistic touch but personally I’m never in favor of a movie needing to explain its world to you before it even starts. Some of my favorite movies have always been ones where they never held your hand or helped explain their world to you, where instead you as a viewer have to make it out as you go along.

Anyways, a friendless Mai meets a new robot, 7723, who might make her change her mind about the value of robots. Together they then band together to help save the world from a nefarious plot that I will not reveal, but being a true cyberpunk movie, you can probably guess what might happen well into the movie.

I personally loved this movie. There is a good amount of action, and the direction and scenes are incredibly creative and felt akin to the visuals I might see in a high-quality anime or intense big-budget video game.

The soundtrack was quite good, the characters were believable and relatable (especially Mai), and the visuals were beautiful as well.

Considering that this is a children’s movie and I wasn’t their target audience, I thought it was still a very enjoyable movie. I look forward to more cyberpunk movies like it, especially because for me, the cyberpunk tropes can get a bit too violent (like Altered Carbon), too slow (like Blade Runner), or too dark and depressing (like Black Mirror). To watch a neon high-tech movie where humanity is slipping away with an excess of robots in their false utopia was highly refreshing when considering how light and fun all the robots were. For instance, the robot toothbrush fighting to get into Mai’s mouth so it could fight her tartar was a laugh-out-loud fun moment. You don’t get a lot of those these days with Cyberpunk.

In summation, I would give this movie a 10/10 taken as it is, unless you don’t like kids movies or expect to have your mind blown, in which case it’s probably not for you. I can’t seem to find any faults in it really.

Let me know what you think below!