Producer James Cameron and director Robert Rodriguez team up to adapt the Japanese manga comic “Alita: Battle Angel.” In a dystopian future, a cyborg with a human brain is brought back to life to become the hero in a game of super Rollerball. While it’s an impressive visual spectacle, the story plays like a smorgasbord of ideas culled from other, better works. Annoyingly, there’s no climax, so the filmmakers expect us to wait for the sequel with bated breath.
The surprise hit horror flick “Happy Death Day” was a mashup of “Groundhog Day” and “Scream,” about a teenager who repeats that day she was murdered over and over again. The sequel, “Happy Death Day 2 U” may not match up, but it’s better than It has any business being with Jessica Rothe demonstrating a real range of emotion as she’s caught in a time loop with moral conundrums.
“Isn’t it Romantic” is a passable fantasy. Rebel Wilson plays a woman who gets bonked on the head and wakes up in an alternate universe filled with romantic comedy clichés. It feels very strained at times, but good for a few laughs on your Valentine’s Day date.
The harrowing Lebanese film “Capernaum” (CAP-er-nom) is a nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. It’s the brutal tale of a poor little boy living on the streets or Beirut who sues his parents for giving him birth. He befriends an Ethiopian woman and becomes her baby’s unintentional guardian when the woman is detained by immigration authorities. Yes, “Capernaum” is grim, but a beautifully rendered and heartbreaking social drama.
Also opening this week, “Donnybrook” is a drama about desperate people who engage in illicit bare knuckles cage matches. Jamie Bell stars. “The Lears” is a contemporary comic adaptation of “King Lear” and “Lords of Chaos” tells the true story of a murderous death metal band.