Alita: Battle Angel

Weekend Roundtable: 2018 Movies You’re Most Skeptical About

Last week, we talked about upcoming movies we’re looking forward to in 2018. Sadly, a lot of the big movies coming out this year are bound to disappoint, if not outright suck. Which titles have you the most worried?

Shannon Nutt

There are so many movies this year I fear will be disasters, it’s hard to limit it to just one. Going off the titles we’ve seen trailers for, ‘Ready Player One‘ looks like it’s going to be a HUGE disappointment.

I read Ernie Cline’s book a couple years back and it ranks as one of my favorite novels of all time. As someone who was in high school in the 1980s, it was the perfect read for me – paying homage to all the great things in pop culture I loved from that era. Someone like Steven Spielberg helming an adaptation of the novel seemed like the perfect choice – but wow, does he look like he messed this thing up big-time.

While Cline’s book does feature some videogame fighting sequences, it’s really more about solving puzzles and getting high scores on classic videogames inside the Virtual Reality world of Oasis than about huge battle sequences. That must have been too cerebral for Spielberg, as the trailers for his movie make it look like viewers will get nothing but big F/X battle scenes. To add insult to injury, one of the core themes in the book was that the main character falls in love with a girl (whom he only sees the VR version of until the very end) that turns out to be overweight and have a birthmark on her face. The actress Spielberg hired for this role? The very slim and attractive Olivia Cooke – which makes zero sense, even if he does stick with the birthmark.

Of course, it’s hard to say what the final version of Spielberg’s movie will look like, but if he needed a model to pick from, ‘Ready Player One’ should feel more like ‘Willy Wonka’ (a comparison the author has made himself) than ‘Minority Report’. But Spielberg’s movie looks more like the latter than the former. While the world outside Oasis should be dystopian, the world inside it should be fun and colorful. Instead, Spielberg doesn’t seem to have contrasted between the two in his movie. I’ll certainly see the film when it comes out, but I have major concerns about it. We’ll all find out what we’re getting on March 30th.

Brian Hoss

I’m a huge fan of ‘Sicario’ (it’s an excellent early Ultra HD Blu-ray), but at no point did I think it needed a sequel. ‘Sicario 2: Soldado‘ seems at a glance like a big cash-in, especially without the original film’s amazing director. And yet, the writing talent of Taylor Sheridan is nothing to scoff at. Fingers crossed that ‘Sicario 2’ isn’t pointless or perfunctory.

Luke Hickman

All of my worries come from franchise titles.

Although this year brings the culmination of the entire cinematic universe, I’m worried for Marvel’s 2018 slate. ‘Black Panther‘ looks like a rehash of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (including the camera work) mixed with the crowd rave scenes from ‘The Matrix Reloaded’. Boy, does it look bad. Two-and-a-half months later, we get ‘Avengers: Infinity War‘. If you thought movies like ‘Spider-Man 3’ and ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ had too many characters, wait until this one comes out. The icing on the cake is yet another stupid-looking CGI villain. Another two months later, we get ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp‘. Touted as a superhero rom-com, I’m curious to see how Marvel Studios plays with genre (much like Fox has done with its Marvel properties), but I’m still cautious due to the first ‘Ant-Man’ being so bland and dull.

When the first ‘Pacific Rim’ came around, I thought it looked terrible, but when I actually saw it, I loved it. Guillermo del Toro infused that movie with a whole lot of fun and cool action. Knowing that may be the case again, I still think ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising‘ looks absolutely awful. Without del Toro, I fear that it’ll be another generic action movie.

With ‘The Last Jedi’, Disney showed that it’s fully capable of fumbling the ‘Star Wars’ brand. ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story‘ seems like it’s going to be a mess. Switching directors mid-way through a shoot and going back for a second round of re-shoots are bad signs. In addition, ‘Star Wars’ movies always get trailers well in advance of hitting theaters, yet here we are four months before ‘Solo’ is supposed to debut, and we haven’t seen a second of footage.

I had fun with ‘Jurassic World’, but it was far from a quality movie. Just one sequel into the new series, ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom‘ already looks like we’ve jumped ahead to ‘Jurassic Park III’ territory. Rescuing the dinosaurs from an exploding island actually sounds worse than rescuing a child from the island.

Shane Black has a solid cult fan base, but I’m not part of it. For the most part, his movies are overrated. The last thing I want to see is a filmmaker who puts everything into making “cool” movies tackle ‘The Predator‘ property. I don’t want to see a buddy Predator movie that’s set during Christmas.

Sony has struggled to stay relevant with its Marvel properties. I like the joint venture ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, but I’m worried about the (supposedly) Spidey-free ‘Venom‘ movie. My only hope comes from Tom Hardy in the lead role.

Although ‘Justice League’ was a bust, I’m still hoping that DC’s cinematic universe isn’t done yet. ‘Wonder Woman’ was a whole lot of fun. I’m hopeful for ‘Aquaman‘, but how great can an underwater superhero movie really be?

M. Enois Duarte

The movie I’m most apprehensive about is ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story‘. My fears are not just because it’s a prequel spinoff. (‘Rogue One’ actually turned out pretty good, which was surprising.) My worry is about Ron Howard’s involvement. He’s not a terrible director, per se. In fact, I think he’s quite good and I tend to like his movies. However, he’s not exactly a noteworthy filmmaker with some unique, distinguishable style either. Howard is a safe bet – a conventional, competent, traditional formalist. His films are easy to study and breakdown, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The issue is that he doesn’t experiment and doesn’t challenge his audience; his main objective every time is simply to entertain. It’s easy to see why Kathleen Kennedy wanted him to take over the project, and that’s what worries me. The next installment in the ‘Star Wars’ universe will potentially not try anything new or challenging. I have a feeling it’s going to be far too conventional and ordinary.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

We’ve never seen such a staggering volume of superhero movies in a single year like this, and the completist in me knows I’m going to watch every last one of them. When the floodgates finally close, there are certain to have been at least a couple of dreadful misfires along the way.

I’m especially pessimistic about ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix‘. Writer/director Simon Kinberg and producer Lauren Shuler Donner already savaged the Dark Phoenix saga in ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. ‘Dark Phoenix’ is the follow-up to what’s dangerously close to being a franchise low point in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, one also spearheaded by Kinberg, Donner and Bryan Singer. I mean, the most praise you can lavish upon ‘Apocalypse’ is that it’s not quite as unwatchable as ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’.

At the same time, this is also the same talent behind significantly stronger X-flicks like ‘Days of Future Past’, they fully acknowledge that ‘Apocalypse’ was a dumpster fire, and the prospect of an X-Men space opera is too much to ever resist. My fingers are crossed, but I’m still bracing myself for disappointment.

Josh Zyber

If possible, I’m even more skeptical about ‘Ready Player One’ than Shannon is. I wasn’t able to make it all the way through the book, which I found irritatingly written. When the second trailer revealed that half or more of the movie will focus on badly mo-capped versions of the characters, I decided that I’m out. I’ll also echo the doubts about ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’, ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’, and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.

Despite being based on a classic children’s story and having a respected director at the helm, ‘A Wrinkle in Time‘ looks like a really crappy CGI-fest and, at best, an utterly generic fantasy flick.

Still, nothing this year could possibly look worse than ‘Alita: Battle Angel‘. Within seconds of the trailer starting, I was screaming, “Oh no no no no no no nooooooooooooooo…!” at the screen. I haven’t seen Uncanny Valley this bad since ‘The Polar Express’. It’s terrifying. James Cameron literally spent decades developing this adaptation of an old anime as one of his greatest passion projects, but ultimately turned the reins over to Robert Rodriguez of all people. (How did those two ever become friends?) They spent over $200 million making the movie and this is the best they could come up with?

I’ll be amazed if it makes 200 dollars at the box office. It looks atrocious.

Once again, here’s the Wikipedia list of 2018 movies. Which ones do you think will bomb the hardest?


      • Actully the majority of responses/comments are very positive. The uncanny valley is an intentional aspect, and once you get over the initial shock it actully looks really good.

        I’m a die hard fan of the Manga which I already accept this movie is going to go in quite a drastically different direction from, though that said it still looks to capture the spirit of the story and who Alita is.

        There’s far too many big names on board this film for it to crash, I predict it ‘ll do far better than a lot of people are giving credit.

        Once a few more trailers hit and we see live action Motorball (yes it will be included in this one) people are going to have their minds blown by this, I guarantee!

  1. Bolo

    ‘Red Sparrow’ looks like a b-movie in denial. The problem with black widow movies is that they’re implicitly sleazy. You get two cheap thrills (sex and violence) in one sleazy package. The best way to do these types of movies is to hire a stylish director who can have cheeky fun with the romp. Guys like Verhoeven or DePalma deliver this type of material perfectly. ‘Red Sparrow’ looks like it’s trying to go too middlebrow considering its subject matter. Like they really think they can make a credible serious movie about a Russian sex ninja.

  2. “When the second trailer revealed that half or more of the movie will focus on badly mo-capped ”
    I guess I missed that. Was that in a text crawl somewhere on the trailer or in a voiceover? Seriously, if you think you can ASS-U-ME anything from a marketing company’s trailer, you’re pretty naive. I mean it’s not like trailers lied to use when it showed us how Rogue One ended with Jen facing off against a Tie Fighter, or Ragnarok unquestionably had Thor and Loki attacked by Hela in a New York alley, and how the climax of Justice League took place at night, right?

    • Josh Zyber

      The whole point of the plot to that book is that the characters spend most of their time inside the VR world called Oasis. The “real world” parts of the story just bookend the important stuff in VR land. The trailer shows us that Spielberg is rendering everybody in Oasis in what looks like pretty crappy mo-cap. I’m sorry, but that’s lame.

      • Barsoom Bob

        It is not often that i agree with Josh’s, shall we say, strong opinions, but I had exactly the same reaction as him to the second trailer. I read the book and it was fun, albeit a third rate knock off of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Reamde (that is not a misspelling) and was looking forward to it. The fact that they have chosen to render the VR Oasis as PS3 era CGI cut scene level just dropped my jaw to the floor and my interest in it almost evaporated. Couple that with the ridiculous looking security drones with the light up 101 (get it, it’s binary) on their uniforms, this looks made for children, which is odd because it is so steeped in 80’s nostalgia.

        On the other hand, had my fill of super heroes and sequels, but Alita: Battle Angel scored interesting in my book.

  3. I’m interested to see Chicago in Death Wish and rampage since I saw them both filming down the street from me , but both movies look absolutely awful.

  4. Csm101

    I guess if I really have to pick one that I’m most skeptical about, Predator comes to mind. I’ll always flock to a Predator movie, but….. I really hope the Predator doesn’t befriend a precocious kid.

  5. William Henley

    The new Jurassic World movie looks just awful. It may be the first Jurassic Park movie that I skip seeing it in the theaters.

    The Avengers also looks awful. Considering I didn’t like the previous two movies, I doubt I will like this one any better.

    Solo I am apprehensive about. Disney really screwed up with The Force Awakens, but redeemed themselves with Rogue One and Last Jedi, so we will just have to see how things go.

  6. Dan Snoddy

    “James Cameron literally spent decades developing this adaptation of an old anime as one of his greatest passion projects, but ultimately turned the reins over to Robert Rodriguez of all people. (How did those two ever become friends?) ”

    Never hurts to do a little research Josh. Cameron and Rodriguez have been friends since the Spy Kids days. How could Cameron, one of the most obsessive directors in history, not respect a guy like Rodriguez? Just check out all the credits Rodriguez has on Spy Kids (Writer, Producer, Director, Editor, Camera Operator, Visual Effects Supervisor). They’re total kindred spirits. Spy Kids 3 was one of the first, if not the first, films to use the 3D cameras Cameron was developing for Avatar.

    I don’t know anything about the source material, but I would never bet against Cameron. His track record is unbelievable. Look at something like Strange Days which Kathryn Bigelow directed from his screenplay. It didn’t make any money, but its a great under appreciated film. I’m also really looking forward to what Robert Rodriguez can do with $200 million. I don’t look at that as a negative at all. Some of those shots in the teaser are absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to see the finished film.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I couldn’t disagree more with your impression of the Alita teaser. That’s a great teaser. The song played throughout is Lullaby for a Soldier from Sons of Anarchy and it’s sung by Maggie Siff who played Tara. What a wonderful choice of music to play over some really exciting Sci-Fi footage. The teaser doesn’t give away the entire film. We don’t see all that much, but what we do see sets up a really interesting world. It sets the mood for what looks like a really interesting film, and isn’t that what a teaser is supposed to do?

    • Josh Zyber

      You guys are crazy. There is no sense in that trailer that the animated character exists in the same physical reality as the live actors. She looks like she dropped in from Toontown.

      • Dan Snoddy

        I’ve watched the teaser on my phone, computer, and in IMAX 3D before The Last Jedi and I like the animation. I think Alita looks fantastic and I think she fits the reality of the film very well…from what we’ve seen. It’s important to remember that this a teaser released 8 months before the film is due in theaters. The teaser worked really well on my niece, she’s excited about seeing it, and I look forward to taking her. You’ll probably never get on board with the film because your reaction is so strong, but I still think it’s a good teaser that offers an interesting glimpse into a Sci-Fi world that I’m unfamiliar with. Could the film end up being a cluster**** like Valerian or Jupiter Ascending? Sure. But I’ve got faith in Cameron and Rodriguez.

        • William Henley

          I haven’t seen Valerian yet, but I feel that Jupiter Ascending gets more hate than it deserves. Is it a great movie? No, But its not a bad movie either. I think everyone was just expecting it to be ground breaking like The Matrix was, and had unrealistic expectations for it – there was no way it could live up to that.

          Once again, I am not saying its a great movie – its not, but I think its a lot better than most people think it is. It will probably end up a cult classic over time

          • William Henley

            Eh, well Flash Gordon plays football in Ming’s palace.

            In any case, I am just thrilled that its Tuesday and the Weekend Roundtable is still going on!

      • I’m gonna side with Dan here. I’d never heard about Alita before reading this, but after watching the trailer, I’m excited about the movie. I didn’t mind the oversized eyes or the triangle head even the slightest.

      • Csm101

        For shits and giggles, why don’t we place a friendly wager as to how much the Battle Angel will make domestically? Josh, when you say bomb, how bad? 20 million 30 million, perhaps under 50 million here in the states? I feel like it could make over a hundred million domestically. If you lose, you have to send out a few limited edition steelbooks of said movie to some lucky readers. If you win, what’s your price? 😀

        • Bolo

          I’m excited to see ‘Alita’, but I fully expect it to bomb with American audiences. Americans just don’t show up for cyberpunk. They see busy grimy overpopulated cities full of invasive tech and they decide that they don’t want to see any story that takes place there. It doesn’t matter whether it’s highbrow (Brazil), middlebrow (Ghost in the Shell 2017) or lowbrow (Judge Dredd). There’s just something about that look that seems to rub American audiences the wrong way. Americans seem to prefer futures that resemble sterile shopping malls.

        • Josh Zyber

          Alita looks very comparable to recent sci-fi duds like Valerian, Jupiter Ascending, and Ghost in the Shell, which all topped out in the $40 million range domestically. However, its Uncanny Valley is really, really, really bad. That combined with the grimy, nondescript “future” setting (which appears to lack the eye-popping razzle dazzle of any of those other movies) leaves it with basically no appeal whatsoever for audiences. I think we may be looking at the next Mars Needs Moms ($21 million worldwide gross).

          • Timcharger

            Polar Express, Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia in Rogue One, DIDN’T have exaggerated, oversized eyes. Seems contrary to criticize BOTH oversized eyes and the Uncanny Valley of being too synthetically photo-realistic causing unsettling feelings to the human viewer. Seems like the decision to go with oversized eyes addresses this concern. It may or may not work in the actual film, but your complaints contradict each other.

          • Josh Zyber

            No, they don’t. The Uncanny Valley effect is caused by something looking almost lifelike, except for some prominent detail being off. Like having eyes too big.

          • Timcharger

            Huh? Polar Express is an often cited example of Uncanny Vallley.

            Alita in the film may still result in causing that same effect, but the LESS lifelike, oversized eyes is precisely the opposite of being too human-like.

            And it’s not about a “prominent detail being off.” Why it is “uncanny” is that it is a strange effect where the more lifelike it seems, it produces the opposite, an unsettling effect of on the viewer.

          • Timcharger

            Why go ad hominem, Josh?

            And by the way, the “valley” part of Uncanny Valley, suggest a rising part on the other side of that valley dip, that perfect photorealism would entice more positive reactions from the viewer. Having a prominent difference of say, oversized eyes, may stop the viewer from approaching that dip in the valley.

          • William Henley

            Part of the issue with uncanny valley is that the boundary is constantly being pushed. Final Fantasy Spirits Within was accused of hitting the uncanny valley when it came out, yet now the animation looks cheesy.

            As far as dolls are concerned, the only ones that I have seen that reach the uncanny valley are the Reborn dolls. Those are just creepy.

    • Dan Snoddy

      Valerian is a mess, but it’s a gorgeous mess. Some of the best visuals I’ve ever seen. The screenplay was a disaster, and Dane Dehaan was woefully miscast, but I’ll damn it with faint praise and say it didn’t suck. I’ve enjoyed everything James Cameron has ever had a hand in writing. I’ll be surprised if I don’t enjoy Alita as well.

  7. plissken99

    Luke.. actually Shane Black was in the original Predator(Hawkins), and has a great track record. He’s as qualified as anyone to make another Predator movie.

    That said most everything this year looks like crap. Never read Ready Player One, but it looks like a perfectly realistic future.. the world is a toxic over crowded hellscape with badass video games to distract from it.. hell thats almost our reality right now. Only it looks completely unappealing on every level.

    The last Jurassic movie was crap, so the next should be even worse if that’s possible. Solo has every sign of being an unwanted pregnancy.. seriously who wanted a young Han Solo movie? Raise your hands.

      • Me too. They certainly know how to make a fun movie, no matter the genre. Ron Howard is as vanilla (and hit-or-miss) as can be, so I’m not looking forward to another Justice League cinematic experience.

        • Timcharger

          I thought you didn’t like Last Jedi’s a joke every minute, undermining the drama, peril, or seriousness of every scene. A Miller & Lord film would do that, no? Jonah Hill would be under Chewbacca’s costume.

          • A Miller-Lord Star Wars movie would undeniably be highly comedic; however, Solo isn’t an Episode. It’s a standalone. The Episodes have attempted to be consistent. They tell a fluid story, so tonal continuity should be expected.

            How would you have felt if The Two Towers had bad jokes undermining every should-be emotional scene? What if the tone felt NOTHING like The Fellowship of the Ring?

          • Timcharger

            Lord of the Rings’ hate?! Huh?

            It was Legolas/Orlando Bloom not Viggo, btw.

            And the point is about being consistent. Orlando did float-walk on chest-deep snow in Fellowship of Ring. Surfing a shield down a flight of stairs in Two Towers. Legolas’ superhero Spider-Man abilities were established and consistent throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

            But picking on Hickman, if that trilogy consistency policy is true, then you gotta hate on Ragnarok, no? But I get it, no one was endeared to the Asgardian characters like the love for Luke, Leia, and Han.

    • William Henley

      Ready Player One looks like a combination of Surrogates and Tron Legacy with all the good stuff taken out to pander to a tweenage audience.

    • I know that a lot of people love Shane Black, but he’s not my flavor. He’s like the writer/director equivalent of Marvel Studios – he makes the same movies over and over again. Last Action Hero (writer) and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (writer/director) are the only movies of his that I like. For me, everything else is highly forgettable and redundant. Watching movies that constantly try to remind you how cool they are is exhausting.

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