Discernment was my post where I quantify the merits of all fiction, whether a piece of fiction is literary or cinematic. I’m currently ruminating on the critical process. Ever since I got some worthy and worthwhile advice on how to make my critiques more specific, I’ve been trying out a few new ways. There was a movie critic I once listened to on the radio who used letter grades, like in school. That’s a good way. Everybody understands the A to F system pretty well. I’m not going to do it that way though; that was his schtick.
Though I’m re-working the weight of each point on the scale, the 7 points I cover are still necessary, I think. They’re the basis of good literature, and I found they cover the cinematic world really well. The 7 points are as follows:
1.Drawing power. 2.Interest factor. 3.Offensive factor. 4.Range of emotion. 5.Character factor. 6.Style. 7.Proper length.
I might re-work the first two also, since Drawing Power and Interest Factor are so closely related they could possibly confuse some people. The reason I introduced them was because you might actually be drawn to something that doesn’t normally interest you, and you might still be interested in something that doesn’t have drawing power. Capiche?
The reason I bring this all up is because I was drawn to a movie called Alita: Battle Angel. I love science fiction, cyborgs, futuristic battles, and dystopian realms. The trailers/previews all seemed to promise such stuff, and I’d say the movie delivered most of that.
As far as the Offensive Factor goes: there’s only one “eff” in this movie, that I noticed, otherwise it’s like a teen/pre-teen movie. Very inoffensive. If it was a book, it would be YA (Young Adult).
Range of Emotion, however, would have received a low score on my scale because there’s some definite anakin-skywalker-rage type unprompted emotions happening in the film. You know the kind I’m talking about. It starts out a lovely day. Everyone has clothes on their back. Everyone is clean and healthy looking. There’s gas in the x-wing. Then someone’s face pinches up and says, “Stop the x-wing! I can’t stand how well things are going!” And everyone looks at them with mixed feelings of pity and disgust . Then that pinched face person says, “I feel rage.”
Everyone laughs. It’s an impotent rage. It doesn’t fly with the other passengers. It doesn’t translate from screen to audience.
That’s how a lot of the characters in Alita show their emotions. There’s a disconnect between how the audience sees it and how the movie was perceived by those who made the movie.
There are some amazing Style elements to the movie Alita. The hand to hand combat choreography is top notch. I found myself thinking the fight scenes in Alita were better than many of those in the Marvel Comics movies. (Alita doesn’t do any goofy tricks like grabbing someone’s head between her legs and throwing them around. Alita actually kicks people across the room.)
There are some Style problems with Alita too. There’s a world, dystopian, technologically advanced, exciting, brutal; all of these things, but also complicated and poorly explained. I found myself in the middle of the movie suddenly learning things about the rules of the world. They should rename the movie “Now they tell me.” There are some things, like a cyborg with a human brain (and nothing else human) needing loads of food but no oxygen. And leading right in to Proper Length, this movie probably should’ve been half an hour longer.
I KNOW…you’re probably thinking like I do: movies should NOT be LONGER. Alita was barely 2 hours though, so instead of having a non-ending and confusing world rules, the movie makers could have just ended it, and put a little world-rules-prep at the beginning. A few minutes at each end would have made it longer, but also would have made it so much better. The other option would have been taking some of the unnecessary scenes out of the middle. Editing. Editing could have saved Alita from being a side note in movie history.
And I can’t leave this without mentioning the character Alita’s face is difficult to watch. It has an anime style to it with really big eyes and a messy fringe of hair. And for some reason the mouth didn’t move with the words very well. If you can handle that for 2 hours, you could watch this movie. Bring your Mystery Science Theater 3000 sense of humor, though. You’ll need it.