Grim Pickings / 26 July 2019

Cinemas & Home Entertainment This Week…

GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember with a masterpiece returning to cinemas restored for its 40th anniversary while two adaptations of cult comics hit home entertainment!


Francis Ford Coppola returns to stoke the fire for a third time with his 1979 masterpiece, APOCALYPSE NOW, in what is titled the FINAL CUT, for the film’s 40th anniversary. Painstakingly restored from the original negative over a period of eleven months, this was extensive project that has also employed new tech such as Dolby Vision to enhance the image presentation, accompanied by an all-new immersive Dolby Atmos audio remix. Army Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is a troubled man sent on a dangerous and mesmerising odyssey into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade American colonel named Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has succumbed to the horrors of war and barricaded himself in a remote outpost.


Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN) helms this live action adaptation of popular manga, BATTLE ANGEL ALITA, produced by James ‘where the hell is AVATAR 2 and does anyone care anymore’ Cameron. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL is an odd film as for all intensive purposes it shouldn’t work, a film dependent on a computer animated lead acting alongside real actors in a largely computer animated landscape in a cliche-riddled summarised version of a long-running comic book series, but somehow it does. Rodriguez gives a depth to the character of Alita (brilliantly portrayed/voiced by a performance captured Rosa Salazar) that makes her more human than human (or perhaps more human than cyborg) that is easy to both identify and empathise with. ALITA BATTLE ANGEL is a film of true spectacle with draw-dropping imagery and elaborate set pieces that maintains genuine emotion throughout, this is perfect popcorn entertainment for all. When Alita (Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognise, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love.
CRITTERS fans rejoice, as we wait for Shudder to launch in Australia and release CRITTERS: A NEW BINGE to our screens, Roadshow has unleashed the latest feature-length film, CRITTERS ATTACK!. It’s been twenty-seven years between CRITTERS films and while we’re yet to see this latest offering, we’re assured anything has to be better than their last outing to space. Twenty year-old Drea (Tashiana Washington), who reluctantly takes a job babysitting for a professor of a college she hopes to attend. Struggling to entertain the professor’s children Trissy (Ava Preston) and Jake (Jack Fulton), along with her own little brother Phillip (Jaeden Noel), Drea takes them on a hike, unaware that mysterious alien critters have crash-landed and started devouring every living thing they encounter. While being tracked by the ravenous critters, Drea and the kids encounter an adorable, seemingly harmless female critter named Bianca, an exiled royal fleeing the critter race. As the critters converge on the college campus, Drea and the kids, who are now inextricably linked to Bianca, rush to head them off. Will Drea discover her inner badass, and will it be enough to stop the critter onslaught? And is the critter princess as innocent as she seems?
Neil Marshall (THE DESCENT, DOOMSDAY) returns to the director’s chair with his first feature in almost a decade, this time around with an all-new adaptation of Mike Mignola’s beloved HELLBOY comic. Unfortunately for Marshall, this new outing for the sawed-off horned hero carries with it convoluted plotting, flatliner humour, lacklustre performances, patchy production design and woeful special effects that when they don’t look like second-rate CGI, end up looking like latex and foam. Regardless of whether Marshall’s adaptation adheres closer to the comic, the poor execution is its ultimate failure and we would sooner revisit Guillermo del Toro’s two previous efforts back-to-back for twenty-four hours straight before ever giving this one another viewing! Hellboy is back, and he’s on fire. This action-packed story sees the legendary half-demon superhero (David Harbour) called to the English countryside to battle a trio of rampaging giants. There he discovers The Blood Queen, Nimue (Milla Jovovich), a resurrected ancient sorceress thirsting to avenge a past betrayal. Suddenly caught in a clash between the supernatural and the human, Hellboy is now hell-bent on stopping Nimue without triggering the end of the world.

Grim Pickings is written weekly by Jarret Gahan.