Edge of Seventeen (2016)

Directed by: Kelly Fremon Craig

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

I try my best to be as objective as possible when reviewing books and films, but sometimes my subjective opinions make it hard for me to do so. This is one of those time where I found myself struggling. Technically this is a very good film, and I definitely see why it has performed so well, but personally, I’m not the biggest fan.

My grievances come from the fact that I can’t relate to the main character, Nadine (Steinfeld). I find her to be an annoying and self-centred teen with often times toxic behaviour. For most of the movie, she was her own worst enemy— which I realize is an aspect of the plot but still. Her mother definitely doesn’t help, and honestly, I think she’s just the worst. When it comes to the supporting characters, I don’t have much to complain about though. The highlight characters of the film (for me) being Mr. Burner (Harrelson) and Erwin Kim (Hayden Szeto).

When it comes to plot this is your classic coming of age story and shows not only the main character but those closest to her, growing in some way. This was definitely a good part of the film. I admit, in the end, I found Nadine had really learned a lesson and therefore liked her much more. The only shortcoming would be the way the mother changes, which seems more abrupt than anything.

Would I recommend this movie to people I know? Sure. When it comes down to it I feel like I’d give the film 82%.

Would you like to see the movie? Well, you can rent and buy it through Amazon, or watch it on Netflix.

Annihilation

By: Jeff VanderMeer

Genre: Science-Fiction

Average Rating: 3.67/5

“‘We all live in a kind of continuous dream,’ I told him. ‘When we wake, it is because something, some event, some pinprick even, disturbs the edges of what we’ve taken as reality.’”

Annihilation is an interesting examination of our world evolving into something new, something rarely seen by modern eyes. This series seeks to answer the question of how the world would look and how it would affect us as industrialized beings; introducing us to key characters as well as the surreal version of our very own world. Strange things occur in the pristine landscape dubbed Area X. We follow the protagonist, the unnamed biologist, as she and her team explore the alien terrain.

I knew before I even picked up the book that it wasn’t going to be one of those books you simply just breeze through. Even with a pretty good understanding of many of the concepts explored in this book, I found myself still having to pause to contemplate what I had just read. Whether it be for reasons of reflection or comprehension, I feel this book would require occasional breaks for even the most advanced readers. For me, this is the primary negative of this series thus far.

Nevertheless, VanderMeer creates a vibrant world with characters capable of showcasing its mystery. Often time the book is somewhat poetic in its execution and very thought-provoking as a result. Character development among the voyagers we follow is exceptional, as we watch them become overcame by the power of Area X, and in some instances overcame by nature itself. The objectivity of the author of the world outside her mind is just as interesting as her personal opinions regarding what is going on around her.

In the end, I find this to be a good introduction to this world, as well as a good introduction to a character we will hopefully be seeing more of. I give it 4.3/5.

If you’d like to get a copy to check out for yourself you can get one here.

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Directed by: Robert Rodriguez

Staring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%

It’s not every day that a film introduces its titular character in what may very well be their lowest of lows. When we are introduced to the cyborg Alita she is, for all intents and purposes, long discarded trash. Regardless of this her brain, as well as her core power source, are still in prime condition. It takes the work of one Dr. Ido to restore her into working order. With a new body and new life, Alita, who remembers nothing, is forced to adjust to her new surroundings while trying to remember her obscure past. Dr. Ido, who becomes a father figure to Alita, and a young man named Hugo, her love interest, help her along the way.

I didn’t know what to expect from a movie based off of a manga, let alone a film based on such an extensive and well-written manga. When the trailer first came out, I must admit I was concerned; especially since it follows the disappointing 2017 Ghost in Shell adaption. Like most viewers, I was taken aback by Miss Salazar’s exaggerated eyes. When first exposed to the imagery, I admit that the effects of the uncanny valley were strong. This detail can be somewhat ignored after you take into consideration that the manga makes a point to give Alita exaggerated features, though, if I recall it was originally her “large” lips. This detail would prove to be the only character design decision I found myself continuously questioning.

My main qualm with the film is that there were often times the CGI was poorly executed. As a result, there were scenes in which I found myself being pulled out of the film, solely due to the poor integration of computer-generated backgrounds with the live-action actors. Additionally, the digital augmentation of Alita’s face often came off as awkward, most notably in the scene in which she tries chocolate for the first time. Otherwise, the film was beautiful and fully embraced the cyberpunk aesthetic.

For the most part, I have minimal complaints with the film. I was pleasantly surprised by the character development as well as the overall execution. I wouldn’t call the film your run-of-the-mill origin story. For what it’s trying to achieve in regards to its source material, I would call it successful. Many may say there isn’t really a plot, but as a introductory film to a potential franchise, the film gets the job done. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, which was not what I expected.

With all considered, I find myself giving the film a very good rating of: 4.1/5