Search Results for: Mahershala Ali

Who decided that giving “Alita: Battle Angel” real anime eyes was a good idea? (Plus other gripes)

I already knew Alita: Battle Angel was going to be a contentious film. It’s a live-action version of a cult anime classic. That alone was going to open it up to criticism. Also: Robert Rodriguez cast Rosa Salazar in the title role (more on this later). But the movie decided not to help itself by giving us possibly the worst version of an on-screen android I’ve seen in some time.

WHY, ROBERT RODRIGUEZ!? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS? WHY THE BIG ANIME EYES?

Certainly, people had opinions. Very funny opinions.

The only good things to come from this trailer is 1) seeing Mahershala Ali stunt in bada$$ shades-and-suit combo:

And 2) learning that Haikus for Hotties model and Pretty Dudes star Yoshi Sudarso has a part in this movie.

I must agree with Sudarso, these are some bold choices. And when you make bold choices, you’re bound to divide people. However, I’m definitely on the side that does not get these eyes.

Now, one argument that can be made, I suppose, is that the film is really trying to impress upon you how fake Alita is. To put it another way, other films have people playing androids; in this film, the actor is just a body for the special effects to play on so the film can loudly exclaim how androids exist in an uncanny valley. I get it. But do I like it? No.

The main reason is because anime eyes are strange when they’re taken literally. I get Rodriguez wants to be different with his film and make a more creative mark (maybe to separate himself from the many bad American live-action anime films there are), but he might just have shot himself in the foot with this stylistic choice.

Anime eyes are the Japanese interpretation of American cartoons, which of course feature big eyes. As Carli Velocci wrote for Waypoint:

[T]he distinct anime style as we know it today can be traced back largely to one person. Osamu Tezuka, widely considered to be the “godfather of manga,” was heavily influenced by Walt Disney and Max Fleischer, the creator of Betty Boop. He was said to have been particularly obsessed with Bambi, which he watched over 80 times. If you even just glance at Betty or early Disney characters like Bambi, you can see the resemblance with anime. Both feature characters with oversized heads and large, expressive eyes.

Tezuka went on to create the precursor for modern-day anime: Astro Boy, the story of an android that fights crime. The main character is the epitome of this art style, with large, expressive eyes that carried over to his multiple incarnations. It debuted in 1963 in Japan and has been recreated multiple times since.

I feel like Rodriguez understands this and that influenced his decision to have Alita’s remain huge–he wants to remain true to the character. But is this the way to do it? When anime eyes mesh with the real world, the result is what we’ve got here–something that looks really off-putting and, strangely enough, more cartoonish than the original intention. Like, looking at Alita interact with her human counterparts, it’s only too easy to see where the computer ends and the physical begins.

Also, if Rodriguez really wants to be true to the character, wouldn’t it have made more sense to cast a Japanese actress instead of a Latina one?

Hear me–I am all for Rodriguez’s M.O. of casting Latinx actors and making their stories front and center. That aspect of Rodriguez’s filmmaking has been why I’ve seen it for his films as a whole. I also respect that he’s bringing Latinx acting talent to Alita: Battle Angel. But this also seems like another case in which good intentions miss the point. Similar to how The Martian had black and white actors playing Asian characters, Alita: Battle Angel has the main character–a Japanese android–played by a non-Asian actor. Granted, this remake is more of a “retelling” as it were, since multiple minorities are represented in various roles and minorities are still the driving forces of this film, both in front and behind the screen. However, this could have been an opportunity to truly pay homage to the film’s Japanese roots and cast an actress of Japanese descent in the role. Just my feeling about it.

As it stands, I’m still heavily interested to see where this film will go and how it’ll be treated the closer we get to its July 20, 2018 release date.

What do you think about this film? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

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Who could host next year’s Academy Awards?

Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 2017 Oscars, but who’s gonna host next year’s shindig? (ABC/Jeff Lipsky)

The Academy Awards have come and gone, but for the producers of the show, it’s already time to figure out who’s going to host the next Oscars.

This year’s host, Jimmy Kimmel, did okay…but people had some issues with some of his jokes; mainly, what folks had problems with was Kimmel’s penchant for making fun of people’s names, including Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali and one of the members of the surprise tourist group who were led into the theater for a laugh. He didn’t really need to make fun of their names, because it gave many people, particularly people of color, flashbacks to when their names were made fun of growing up.

So, who could host next year? There’s a good chance it could go to Kevin Spacey, since he’s a triple-threat of an actor—he can act, dance, and sing. But how will #OscarsSoWhite play into things? Perhaps the Oscars are trying to keep their PR trend of seeming more inclusive going. (I’m sounding very cynical about the Oscars; they’re genuinely trying to be more inclusive, but in Hollywood, you better believe there’s some PR politics at play as well).

Maybe they’ll tap one of this year’s Academy winners or nominees, like two-time Oscar-nominated Taraji P. Henson, to host. Henson would make a great host; she has already hosted several variety Empire-themed variety shows for FOX, and she’s also multitalented as well; as we found out in Hustle & Flow, Henson has a great singing voice. Also, she’s naturally funny and charming, so she’ll certainly make the Oscars entertaining.

At this point, the race is wide open for the coveted position of Oscar host. Who do you think will secure the hosting duties for next year? Give your comments below!

Monique talks Oscar predictions on Ebony.com

These actors and actresses could have some history-making Oscar wins. (Ebony.com)

Are you interested in knowing what my thoughts are about the Oscars when it comes to films like Fences, Hidden Figures, Loving, and Moonlight? Just click on Ebony.com and read my first post for the illustrious website!

I give Ebony readers my predictions on who has the best chances of winning the coveted Oscar trophy. Overall, I think it’s going to be a very, very tight race. Here’s a snippet about Mahershala Ali’s chances at winning Best Supporting Actor:

Yes, Ali bowled critics over with his performance in Moonlight. Yes, he’s had a banner year, starring in nearly everything from Marvel’s Luke Cage to another of the Academy’s nominated films, Hidden Figures. But if there’s one thing Oscar gamblers use to place their bets, it’s the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Ali won that award, upping the ante for what could potentially happen Sunday night. If he doesn’t win, expect people to rise up in anger.

Read the rest at Ebony.com!

All eyes are on The Oscars

THE OSCARS® – Late-night talk show host, producer and comedian Jimmy Kimmel will host the 89th Oscars® to be broadcast live on Oscar® SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2017, on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Jeff Lipsky)
The Oscars are upon us, and this year in particular, all eyes are going to be on the nominees.
We’re one year out from the phenomenon #OscarsSoWhite, which actually began two years ago by April Reign. The hashtag brought to light how lopsided the Academy nominating process has been, which resulted in showcasing primarily white actors and movies over movies with diverse or majority POC casts, like “Straight Outta Compton” and “Beasts of No Nation.”
Since then, the Academy has taken strides to diversify its board members and nomination list, and this year, the results of that process are promising.
Hidden Figures, Fences, Loving, Moonlight, and Lion are among the films getting top honors, and actors like Mahershala Ali, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Ruth Negga, Naomie Harris, and Octavia Spencer are poised top possibly go home with covetted statuettes.
With the nomination pool this diverse, it’s more of an even playing field than it’s ever been. But there’s still work to be done, chiefly with nominating women directors and highlighting actors and directors of other ethnic backgrounds. But this is just the first year in an ever-ending battle to keep the Oscars current and truly reflective of American diversity.

“Free State of Jones” Releases New Set of Pictures

More Free State of Jones images! In this batch, we get less of Matthew McConaughey and more of Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mahershala Ali. Check them out below.

My worries about the film are the same as they’ve been a few weeks ago. To recap from my earlier article:

Number one: Is this just a re-jiggered “Good White Man” story with a new coat of “inclusion” polish? Perhaps. Will Gugu Mbatha-Raw have a fleshed-out character beyond being just Matthew McConaughey’s “exotic” love interest? One hopes so. Will this story be centered around the feelings of McConaughey’s character, with the feelings of the black characters who are in the most peril as the film’s remote satellites? I certainly hope not. I don’t want to feel like another Dances With Wolves situation, in which the white man is taken in by the darker people of the region and is, in some ways, made their proverbial king.

Do I know it’s based on real life? Yes. Do I think it could fit into Hollywood’s favorite narrative, the “white savior” narrative? Yes. Or it could. We’ll see when we get into the movie theater, won’t we? (Am I judging a film before it comes out? Yes. But we all do this, so don’t single me out.)

In any case, here are the deets. The film comes out June 24.

Written and directed by four-time Oscar® nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and starring Oscar® winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy.

Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.

Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

Genres: Epic Action-Drama
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali
Directed By: Gary Ross
Produced By: Scott Stuber, Jon Kilik, Gary Ross

Check Out the Stills, Poster, and Trailer for “Free State of Jones”

Free State of Jones is coming to theaters June 24, and if you’ve been interested in this film since word got out that it was even being made, look below to see some stills, behind-the-scenes photos, poster, and the trailer for the film.

Hollywood is beginning to catch up with the wave of inclusion, but even with this film, which is based on a true story, there will be questions that must be addressed. Number one: Is this just a re-jiggered “Good White Man” story with a new coat of “inclusion” polish? Perhaps. Will Gugu Mbatha-Raw have a fleshed-out character beyond being just Matthew McConaughey’s “exotic” love interest? One hopes so. Will this story be centered around the feelings of McConaughey’s character, with the feelings of the black characters who are in the most peril as the film’s remote satellites? I certainly hope not. I don’t want to feel like another Dances With Wolves situation, in which the white man is taken in by the darker people of the region and is, in some ways, made their proverbial king.

Anyways, I’m interested to see this little-told (or never told?) part of American history, if just to see how much the film tries to assert the “We’re the good white people!” storyline that has gotten told too many doggone times in slavery films. But, for all intents and purposes, the film looks good.

Written and directed by four-time Oscar® nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and starring Oscar® winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy.

Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.

Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

Genres: Epic Action-Drama
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali
Directed By: Gary Ross
Produced By: Scott Stuber, Jon Kilik, Gary Ross

EDIT: The latest trailer is shorter and mostly a recut of the original trailer: