Isn’t It Romantic? (PG-13)
Rebel Wilson (Natalie) is not obnoxious in this film, as she usually is. Yes, there are far too many pratfalls and some over-the-top performances by secondary role players (see Brandon Scott Jones as Donny, the gay next-door neighbor who also sells pot), but this is almost acceptable rom-com material—except that it doesn’t stay that way. The film portends to be about self-image and confidence, but it gets mixed up in other genres and the rom is taken out of the com.
Give them credit: The producers set out to make a fantastic comedy and it is a fantasy. Natalie is bonked on the head by running into a post in the New York subway and wakes up to find that almost everybody thinks she is not overweight, ignorable Natalie, but a gorgeous new person in Natalie’s clothes.
As Natalie sees it: “People are treating me special. And I’m not special.”
Natalie hates romance and the whole concept of love. But that’s part of the fantasy: that magical love can’t happen. In the hospital she catches a glimpse of handsome person Liam Hemsworth (Blake). He falls for her and they eventually hook up. Meanwhile, Josh (Adam Devine who usually loses the girl because he’s a dork) runs into Isabella, (Priyanka Chopra), a drop-dead gorgeous model way out of his league. They sort of fall in love (fantasy), but she is a good head taller than him and they have little in common.
I don’t think it’s giving anything away to tell you that Natalie returns to almost normal but with a stronger self-image and the whole thing ends up in a Bollywood-style dance scene that must have clogged early morning Times Square Traffic for quite a spell.
Alita: Battle Angel (PG-13)
The first question you’ll ask about Alita is: “How did they make her eyes so wide?” The answer is, as it must be with most modern films these days, “computer graphics.” In this case, it’s most effective CGI. The rest of the character is done the same way, though Rosa Salazar as Alita gives an amazingly versatile touch to this character, originally a manga character in comics.
She is discovered by Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz) while he is garbage hunting in the dystopian future (2053). Alita is constructed part by part as only her face and torso remain. What emerges is a comely teen with widely hypnotic eyes and unsuspected super powers. Alita has lost all of her memory but somehow retained enough to speak perfect English as soon as she is charged up and ready to go as a cyborg-human.
It’s good that she has some human left as there is plenty for Hugo (Keean Johnson) to fall for. He is human with a risky job of harvesting parts for Vector (Mahershala Ali), aided by Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) who has also been Dr. Edo’s wife.
The plot is incredibly dense and somehow a new sport, “motor ball,” fits in and becomes a key to the story. Don’t ask. It’s brutal.
The film evolves into several chase scenes with Alita, finding her past under the water, and her discovery that she is “the most advanced cyborg warrior ever created.” That leads us to the inevitable belief that we have seen the origin of a series in the years to come. The CGI is amazing but the plot is a bit mixed and you may become impatient with the new vocabulary you have to learn to figure out who’s doing what to whom and why. A bit violent for kids, perhaps, as cyborgs and humans are often dismembered and disemboweled at frequent intervals.