Tag Archives: Mahershala Ali

My Thoughts on: Blade (1998)

Some of the people who knew me growing up might be surprised to hear this, but I was a HUGE fan of Blade back in the day (around my early teens). I have vague memories of stumbling across this film on TV (along with Blade II) and being spellbound by what I saw. Didn’t understand half of it, didn’t even know that Blade came from Marvel comics, but I did know I was watching something amazing!

As I understand it, Blade was the first Marvel movie to be successful, setting the stage for the X-Men films, the Fantastic Four films, and, many years later one could argue, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It all started with Blade. For those not familiar, Blade is a Daywalker, a half-vampire who spends his nights hunting down and killing every vampire he can find. Unlike regular vampires, Blade can move about in daylight, and he has some nasty weapons in his arsenal. The movie sees Blade come up against Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) who has plans of his own for the vampire world. Along the way, Blade is forced to take Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) under his wing (so to speak) and teach her the basics of vampire fighting after she’s assaulted and bitten by a vampire herself.

When I sat down to watch Blade again, it had easily been fifteen or sixteen years since I’d last seen it, so I’d completely forgotten how badass this film is. Despite being 22 years old, the film doesn’t feel dated in the slightest, though I will concede some of the CGI effects haven’t aged that well. Even then, it’s a “blink and it’s over” sort of issue, and I feel like I’m nitpicking by even mentioning it. Seriously, the CGI for the most part looks pretty good for being created in the late 1990s, which is a testament to how hard the filmmakers worked on this film at the time. As good as it must have looked then, it looks so much better upgraded to Blu-Ray (and I can only imagine how it looks in 4K).

Wesley Snipes OWNS every scene he’s in. As soon as he appeared in full Daywalker mode, I instantly realized why everyone had been campaigning to have Snipes reprise his role in the MCU somehow. I mean, my God….the presence he has as Blade is unreal. You don’t see his fangs until very late in the film (unless I missed it), but there’s no mistaking that Blade is something more than human from the moment he’s introduced. He’s also such a badass with that sword, I loved watching every single fight scene. Also, while I have no doubt Mahershala Ali will make an AMAZING Blade, I sincerely hope that Wesley Snipes appears in the MCU Blade film in some way, shape, form or fashion. This is something I NEED to happen.

I love that the “everyman” role in the film is taken up by a woman. I think that’s why I found it so easy to watch this film as a teenager, I could identity with Karen, and that fear of confronting a world that is suddenly nothing like what you expected it to be. N’Bushe Wright turns Karen into a complete and total badass by the end of the film, even when she’s taken captive, she doesn’t lay down and take it. She fights back, and for that reason alone I will defend Blade as one of the best comic book movies ever made forever.

I also have to praise Blade for creating a vampire society that feels frighteningly plausible. The gist is that vampires have permeated every layer of human society imaginable. In fact, it’s quietly implied that vampires are well on their way to running human society as a whole, albeit from the shadows. Once this fact is laid bare in the film, you start to look twice at every person our heroes pass, and it’s actually enough to make you slightly paranoid.

And again, I have to go back to the intensity that permeates this film. This might come out wrong, but there’s a rawness about Blade that isn’t present in the MCU, and it sets Blade apart in a good way. What I mean to say is, because they were still sussing out how to turn Marvel stories into good films, there’s a raw, immense crudeness about Blade that leaves one with the impression of something much larger lurking in the shadows (the MCU by comparison is much more finely tuned). It was just so refreshing to see a film like this again, and I hope the new Blade film carries over some of this intensity and rawness (which is possible since this is the film that’s introducing vampires to the MCU, assuming Morbius doesn’t count).

Having seen Blade upgraded to blu-ray, all I can do now is hope and pray that a similar upgrade is being done for Blade II and, yes, even Blade Trinity (I’m a completionist, it’ll bug me if I don’t upgrade the whole trilogy).

Let me know what you think about Blade in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Reviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 

My Thoughts on: Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

*note: spoilers for Alita: Battle Angel can be found below

After being forced to delay my trip to the movie theater for a week (blame my sinuses), I finally got to see Alita: Battle Angel last night and all I can say is wow! This might be the best Western adaptation of a manga I’ve ever seen. For those not in the know, this film is based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga series Gunnm (better known to Western audiences as Battle Angel Alita). The film was in development for close to 20 years (it was originally announced in 2003) and while the film isn’t perfect, honestly I feel like it was worth the long wait. Alita: Battle Angel is directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron.

First, an overview. Alita: Battle Angel is set in the year 2563, 300 years after a devastating war known only as “the Fall.” Alita (Rosa Salazar) is salvaged from a junk pile by Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz who for once isn’t playing a villain) and awakens with no memory of who she used to be. The story is set in Iron City, a cyberpunk metropolis located directly underneath Zalem, a floating sky city. Under Ido’s watchful (and protective) eye, Alita sets out to discover who or what she used to be. Along the way, she discovers the insane sport of Motorball (imagine roller derby, NASCAR racing, and pro wrestling combined into a single sport where you fight to the death) and falls in love with a human named Hugo (Keean Johnson) who in turn is entangled with the dangerous Vector (Mahershala Ali).

Alita-Battle-Angel_1_WEB.jpg

While this film is incredibly beautiful, it is, as I said, flawed. The biggest problem is the story makes a hundred times more sense IF you read the manga first (or at least the first two volumes). While the broad strokes of the film are largely faithful to the original story, there are a myriad of background details that you’ll miss or otherwise not understand without the manga’s explanations. To be fair though, I feel like Alita: Battle Angel tries very hard to explain as much as it can without being too exposition heavy. Another issue I noticed right away is how the story begins. The discovery of Alita and her reawakening literally takes place in the first five minutes of the film. This is more of a personal preference on my part, but I feel like the film should have started with some of the flashback material we get throughout the film playing at the beginning instead as a sort of prologue.

And speaking of the flashbacks…I loved watching them, but they almost create more questions than answers. This is largely due to the fact that Alita: Battle Angel is blatantly setting up for a sequel that we may or may not get. I’m not against sequel hooks per se (Battle Angel Alita is hardly the kind of story you can tell in one film) but to leave several story threads hanging in the hopes that a sequel will finish the job…that I have a problem with. This leads to the biggest problem in the film: Nova (Edward Norton in a non-speaking role). While the film implies that Nova is the “big villain” of the story, we learn next to nothing about him (aside from the fact that he’s apparently immortal). This is very frustrating especially if a sequel never comes.

screenshot_378.jpg

Aside from these problems, the film really blew me away at times (in a good way). The setting of Iron City and Zalem looks like it came straight out of the manga. While I do agree that Alita’s over-large “anime eyes” look a little peculiar, for me I was able to adjust to them fairly quickly. I also love the motion capture that was used to bring Alita to life, she looks very real (no sense of the uncanny valley at all). I was also pleasantly surprised to not be bothered by the romantic sub-plot between Alita and Hugo, which comes across as incredibly sweet (if somewhat rushed). I did roll my eyes a little when the film included a stereotypical kiss in the rain, but it felt like a good kind of cheesy at the same time.

If you’re on the fence about seeing this film, I highly recommend checking it out. Despite the flaws, it IS a good story and one that deserves to be continued. Let me know what you think about Alita: Battle Angel in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Film Reviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook