Alita: Battle Angel Ending – What Robert Rodriguez Says About That Finale

The following contains spoilers for the end of Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel. Stop reading now if you do not want to know more about the movie’s ending.

By the time you reach the conclusion of Alita: Battle Angel, you realize that it’s really just the first chapter in what could be a much larger saga. Fans of the Manga comic on which this new movie is based understand that. There are volumes of stories that can be told about Alita (Rosa Salazar), and Rodriguez and his producer James Cameron – who once developed Alita as a project for himself – had to figure out how much they wanted to include.

As such, when you get to the end of Alita: Battle Angel, it actually feels like a beginning. The girl has risen to the status of warrior, and she identifies her greatest threat in Nova (Edward Norton). Speaking on the ReelBlend podcast this week, Rodriguez spoke about his decision to end there, explaining:

Now, [Alita] has a very cool ending that makes you think, ‘Oh, that’s going to definitely be more.’ But I like ending movies like that, even if you don’t do a sequel. It’s what I call story value. El Mariachi ended very similar. He didn’t get the guitar case with weapons until the last scene in the movie. In Spy Kids, they didn’t actually become spies until the last scene in the movie. They’re actually spies in the very last scene. So even if you didn’t do a sequel, you could imagine more in your head. Because you go, ‘Oh, now this character is so set up. I can imagine them now going on all of these adventures.’ This is very similar. You go, ‘OK, she’s definitely going to go up there. She’s going to go kick this guy’s ass.’ You almost don’t even need to see it, you know? But you know, if there’s another one, it’ll have tons of surprise, of course, because now you have to counter what people are probably thinking is the logical choice, and really pull the rug out from under them.

Alita: Battle Angel is built for sequels. Based on the cyberpunk comic series by Yukito Kishiro, the story started back in 1990 and lived on, in assorted mediums, for years. James Cameron, in fact, first started developing his take on Alita more than a decade ago, and was deep into development before he got sidetracked by another little project called Avatar.

With Cameron over in Pandora, Robert Rodriguez shifted from Sin City and Spy Kids movies to take a crack at the Battle Angel of Iron City. And it turns out that he inherited a wealth of prep material from Cameron with which to start. Rodriguez spoke at length about this outline when interviewed on the ReelBlend podcast, telling us:

Even when [Cameron] puts his stories together for a one-off movie, he’ll build the idea of sequels. So, in his notes – 600 pages of notes – he had a whole section about a trilogy. Where the trilogy would be. The first world, Iron City would be story one. You would never go up to the second level, there’s more than one level, until a second film. So he kind of outlined where that would go. Even if we don’t make sequels, it helps you to know what to put in the first story, what isn’t important, so that if you do go and do another movie, you’re not like, ‘Oh, we kind of didn’t set it up right.’ But also, [Cameron’s] not really thinking about setting up another story so much as he is about making this first one a complete story. It needs to be a complete story, in case you don’t make another one.

Will Robert Rodriguez be able to make another one? Right now, that’s in the hands of theatergoers, and they can vote with their ticket sales if they’d like to see Alita: Battle Angel turn into a viable franchise. It’s not even a guarantee that Rodriguez would be back for the next one. Producers James Cameron and Jon Landau are the driving forces behind this, and if it does go forward, they’ll go with the right person for the job. (Though Rodriguez poured his heart and soul into the opening chapter.)

Listen to the full interview with Robert Rodriguez in the latest episode of our weekly podcast, ReelBlend:

Alita: Battle Angel is in theaters as we speak. It’s even available in 3D, so if you are looking to go down that route, be sure to check out our To 3D Or Not To 3D review before you grab a ticket.

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11 Times Toys Did Spoil Movies

A lot of movie fans are fond of avoiding spoilers now more than ever. Although trailers can sometimes reveal a lot, many people want to go into the theater knowing as little as possible. That’s become increasingly difficult in the internet age, where just casually strolling through social media or search engines can run the risk of throwing rumors or set leaks in your purview. However, the greatest risk for spoilers may actually be toys, either those officially revealed or those that are leaked ahead of a movie’s official release.

The Russo Brothers — no stranger to combating leaks — recently said that 99% of the time, toys do not spoil movies. Well, I must finally be a member of the 1%, because toys have genuinely spoiled movies for me in the past. I’m not trying to particularly disagree with the Russo’s math on this and given the sheer amount of promotional toys that are released each year, the amount of toys that manage to spoil something is probably slim. However, the ones that do usually drop a doozy.

I’ve compiled a list of products that have personally spoiled big movie moments. If there are other big examples, be sure to let us know!

Aquaman’s Orange And Green Costume Being Shown

I think that everyone defines spoiler a little differently, but if you’re the type of person who doesn’t even want to know what a character will be wearing, you probably were ticked to see Jason Momoa in Aquaman’s classic costume ahead of the film’s release. The suit was revealed in promotional figures for the film before the actual release date. To be fair, the marketing put this suit everywhere it could — including an extended trailer — but considering it doesn’t arrive until the end of the movie, it was a bummer to learn about so far in advance.

The Cloverfield Monster’s Appearance Revealed

Cloverfield without a doubt had one of the best movie marketing campaigns ever. This film captivated fans from the first teaser trailer, and the mystery around pretty much everything about it kept people hungry for details. That includes the appearance of the monster at the heart of it all, so fans were understandably bummed when that monster was revealed in a toy leak. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t call learning the appearance of the title monster as a spoiler for anything, but Cloverfield’s marketing had built such mystique around it that this leak felt especially brutal.

The Ghostbusters Villain Is The Reboot’s Logo

The 2016 Ghostbusters reboot had it rough, but the villain of the film getting spoiled by action figures definitely didn’t help matters. Viewers learned that the ghost from the Ghostbusters logo was ultimately the villain of the movie. Out of context, that sounds pretty dumb, but toys often don’t come with elaborate explanations about how they fit into the movie. Therefore, this one contributed to a bad first impression to a movie that already needed support.

The Indominus Rex Shown Ahead Of Jurassic World

Another movie monster that was being kept close to the chest was the Indominus Rex, the man-made dinosaur from Jurassic World. The dinosaur had only been teased in footage and hadn’t yet been shown outright. However, you can’t expect the studio avoid attempts at profiting from merchandise, and it wasn’t that long before the I-Rex found its way online. It’s important to remember that unless it’s Hot Toys, the figure will almost always look worse than in the actual film, so it stinks to have the look of your gruesome monster spoiled by cheap-looking plastic.

Ant-Man Turning Into Giant Man In Captain America: Civil War

When it comes to toys spoiling movies, there might be no greater perpetrator than LEGO. The company makes LEGO sets directly lifted from scenes of some of the most highly anticipated franchises like Marvel and Stars. They often aren’t 100% accurate but that usually paint a picture of what to expect. One time, LEGO revealed that Ant-Man would transform into Giant Man during Captain America: Civil War, a moment that would have been a lot cooler to see for the first time on screen. Considering that Giant Man didn’t show up in any promotional footage, this one stung fans as Marvel clearly had wanted to keep it as secret as possible.

Thor Gets A New Weapon In Avengers: Infinity War

The death of Mjolnir stunned Thor and MCU fans, but it didn’t take him very long to forge an all-new hammer to stop Thanos. Thor’s whole quest in Avengers: Infinity War was about finding that hammer, but some fans got a sneak peek at Stormbreaker thanks to toy leaks. You better believe Marvel and Disney were going to sell a kid-friendly version of Stormbreaker to whack each other with, and the hammer’s design arrived online prior to the blockbuster’s release. While not a major spoiler compared to some of the others, it was still disappointing for those who would rather have seen the new weapon in theaters.

The Secret Villain Revealed For G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra actually had the biggest twist leaked online before the movie released. An action figure of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character, The Doctor, revealed that his real name was Rex Lewis. His identity was kind of a big deal in the film and he was ultimately revealed to be the real villain, becoming Cobra Commander at the end of the movie. The package didn’t ruin the Commander reveal, but it still dropped the ball pretty hard. I mean, do kids really care what the real names of G.I. Joe figures are?

Bruce Banner Is In The Hulkbuster During Avengers: Infinity War

Who is piloting the Hulkbuster? That was one of the questions fans had after the first Avengers: Infinity War trailer, and they wouldn’t have to wait until the movie to find out the answer. Once again LEGO beat Marvel to the punch and revealed that Bruce Banner was inside of the suit designed for the sole purpose of beating him up. However, this also leads to an example of misdirection. Other toys had the Hulk bursting out of the suit, which ended up not happening in the film. Fans expecting Bruce to green-up were likely left surprised when it ultimately didn’t happen.

The Mask Of The Phantasm Revealed For The Animated Batman Movie

Back in the 90s this type of thing happened way more often. Case in point, the action figure for the Phantasm in the beloved Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was unmasked in the packaging, her secret identity visible for all to see. Considering that this reveal is the mystery at the heart of the film, it completely ruins this moment! The movie is called MASK of the Phantasm! Imagine being excited to see the movie for the first time and then you see the plot twist that holds the whole movie together is right there clear as day in plastic casing. What an absolute bummer.

How Steppenwolf Looked In Justice League

While Darkseid had been the popular for a long time as the main villain of Justice League, Warner Bros. opted to go with the lesser known Steppenwolf. The general from Apokolips had already been confirmed to be the villain as well, but leave it to LEGO to give people their first taste of the character. A LEGO set revealed Steppenwolf in battle with DC heroes in the official toy for the movie. Justice League would have had to reveal this itself at some point before the premiere, but if given the chance, LEGO is going to beat you to it the majority of the time.

Rey Gets Luke’s Lightsaber In Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It’s hard to find a movie that was more anti-spoiler than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The movie was kept under tighter wraps than almost any other movie, but even this behemoth wasn’t immune to a retail screw-up. One lucky fan at Walmart found a new Rey action figure before the movie released and posted it online. The photo went viral and it contained a massive spoiler for The Force Awakens. It featured Rey with Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, revealing that she would ultimately become a Jedi. Reportedly, the toy was not supposed to have been on sale yet, but alas, it still ended up spoiling the flick.

All it takes is one person with a camera and an internet connection to drop a major spoiler for a film. Sometimes, these aren’t the fault of the studio or marketing department. Some people just get their hands on stuff that they aren’t supposed to. Still though, toy leaks remain as a source of spoilers for movies, especially big blockbusters. The closer a film gets to its release date, be sure to be on your guard regarding toy leaks.

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Long Shot Trailer With Charlize Theron And Seth Rogen Is Romantic And Funny

Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen probably aren’t the first two people that you’d consider putting in a romantic comedy together. Of course, that’s part of the joke in the premise of The Long Shot. The upcoming film just dropped its first trailer and regardless of how odd this couple might seem on paper, the pair appear to have some real chemistry together, not to mention some real laughs. Check it out.

The premise of The Long Shot sees Charlize Theron as the current U.S. Secretary of State and a potential candidate for President. She’s going on the campaign trail and needs a speechwriter to help her craft her message, and as it happens, she has recently reconnected with the character played by Seth Rogen, a journalist who she used to babysit when they were younger. He apparently had a crush on her the entire time. The pair begin to work closely together as he tries to get to know her again in order to help write better speeches, and the sparks begin to fly.

With that premise the title certainly makes sense. Charlize Theron‘s character is beautiful, successful and part of the highest levels of society. Seth Rogen’s character is…not. References are even made to Pretty Woman in the trailer, though in this case the genders have been swapped.

All in all, this looks like it could be a really entertaining movie. The pair look to get into some really funny situations. Theron’s Secretary of State looks to be letting her hair down and partying in one scene with Rogen, something that we would not normally expect to see somebody in that position do. One certainly wonders how voters might react. Some might feel its a scandal, but you have to figure a lot of people would love to see their Presidential candidates acting like real people.

Because it’s a romantic comedy, we can pretty much guess where it goes. The trailer itself doesn’t even bother trying to hide it. The fact that Seth Rogen doesn’t look or act like somebody in the same league as Charlize Theron will become an issue as the relationship between the two begins to bloom. Because one of them is in the public eye, the entire relationship will be as well, and there are votes to be considered after all.

Of course, the plot’s just not all that important here. Whether or not The Long Shot works will depend entirely on whether or not the jokes are funny and if people fall in love with the idea of these two characters falling in love. So far, I’m in.

With a release in early May it looks like The Long Shot is looking to be counter program to the onslaught of summer blockbusters. We frequently see a least one comedy break out during the summer season despite the fact that it’s not full of superheroes and if this film is as charming as the trailer, it certainly could be the one.

See Woody And Bo Peep Together Again In First Toy Story 4 Clip

Toy Story 4 is on the way and while we won’t see the actual film for several months, promotion is already apparently in full swing. This morning on Good Morning America a new clip of the film was shown which brings Woody and Bo Peep together again. While the pair have been long separated, the two work together here like it’s been no time at all. Check it out below.

Bo Peep and Woody are in a room, that appears to be Molly’s, and Woody and the gang need her help in rescuing another toy who has been lost in the rain outside. It’s actually hard to tell who it is that’s out there but it looks like RC. Most of our major toy characters, like Buzz and Jesse and Slinky Dog, are accounted for in the room.

Not only do Woody and Bo Peep know exactly what to do, they have a code name for it and everything, but all the other toys are also familiar with “Operation Pull Toy,” which I’m going to assume involves using Woody’s pull string as a way for another toy to get down the wall to rescue the toy, then use the string to get pulled back up.

Annie Potts, who voices Bo-Peep, stopped by GMA where the new scene was revealed. The scene doesn’t have much context so we still don’t know what the ultimate adventure of Toy Story 4 will be, however, it does seem to reveal that Bo Peep may have actually been at Andy’s house this whole time.

In Toy Story 3 Woody references that Bo Peep is one of several toys that have been “lost” since the events of the second film. At the time, it seemed to simply be a justification why the character would not appear in that movie, but it also seemed to imply that Bo Peep was gone from Andy’s house for some undisclosed reason.

Bo Peep was actually part of a lamp that was in the room of Andy’s sister Molly. The fact that the toys have apparently reunited there could indicate that Bo Peep never left the house, maybe she had been simply put in storage. Either that, or Bo Peep actually went looking for Woody and friends, and so went back to the house that she knew, of course unaware that Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the gang, all have a new owner now.

The other interesting thing is that this Bo Peep is wearing her traditional outfit that we have seen in the previous films. The version of the character we’ve seen in other promotional material is actually wearing something totally different, so hopefully the film will actually explain exactly how it is that a lamp can change clothes.

Toy Story 4 is hitting theaters in June.

The Rom-Com Icon Rebel Wilson Tried to Get To Cameo In Isn’t It Romantic

Isn’t it Romantic is one of the big releases in theaters this Valentine’s Day. The new movie is playing fairly well with critics and audiences alike, but it could have also had a rom-com icon near the end of the movie had it played its cards right. Per star Rebel Wilson, the production reached out to actress Julia Roberts about popping in for a quick cameo. She told CinemaBlend in a recent interview:

Julia Roberts is still acting these days, but she’s not using her million dollar smile quite as much, instead opting for more serious roles. Lately she’s played the mother of a young man with a facial deformity in Wonder and the mother of a drug addict in Ben Is Back.

She’s also the lead in the first season of Amazon Prime’s Homecoming, a psychological thriller about a support center helping soldiers to return to civilian life.

In short, she’s far past the years when she flirted with Hugh Grant, Richard Gere, and plenty of other handsome leading Hollywood men on the big screen. Obviously in the past, Julia Roberts took roles outside of rom-coms, but there was a specific point in her career when people identified her specifically with romantic comedies. Now, that’s not longer the case.

Although Isn’t It Romantic is the sort of romantic comedy that is self-aware and cheeky about the genre, it’s easy to see why Julia Roberts would have passed on the gig. (Just as it’s easy to see why the movie would have reached out anyway.)

Previously, Julia Roberts even revealed that she had pretty much reached the end of the line in the rom-com genre, noting that there was a time and place in her career for those sorts of movies, but that time is not now. She said,

The last rom-com she was attached to was Mother’s Day in 2016 and even that movie featured Julia Roberts as a mother and not a girl standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her. With all of this in mind, the likelihood of getting her to cameo in Isn’t It Romantic, while not hopeless, was also not high. Still, it would have been pretty cool.

Rebel Wilson stars in Isn’t It Romantic with Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect reunion alert) and Priyanka Chopra, both of whom can be seen in our exclusive interview with the cast. Take a look below.

For more exclusive content, stay tuned to CinemaBlend and be sure to catch Isn’t It Romantic in theaters this weekend.

Happy Death Day 2U Has A Bunch Of Clever Back To The Future Tributes

This feature is loaded with spoilers for Happy Death Day 2U**, so stop reading now if you haven’t yet seen the sequel.**

Happy Death Day 2U does exactly what most sequels should aspire to do: Instead of just regurgitating more of the same that audiences liked about its predecessor, it steps back and looks at the first movie through a new prism. In doing so, Happy Death Day 2U shifts from a slasher-horror exercise into a dense, twisty sci-fi/time-travel adventure that still fits the pattern established by the original.

Naturally, when a movie plays with time travel, and established timelines, it needs to pay homage to one of the greatest time-travel adventures of our generation: Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future trilogy. There are a bunch of references to the BTTF films in Christopher Landon’s Happy Death Day 2U, some blatant, and some that were less obvious. How many of these did you catch? And what ones did you see that we missed?

The BTTF conversation

Once Tree (Jessica Rothe) starts to describe the phenomenon that she might have woken up in a slightly different version of her reality, Carter (Israel Broussard) and Ryan (Phi Vu) immediately reference Back to the Future Part II. It’s a table-setting conversation, so that the audience will know that the references are coming. Yes, it’s funny that Tree admits to having never seen the BTTF films. But it also frames the plot of Happy Death Day 2U moving forward, so we can see how Tree and her friends will have to interact with the events of the first movie, and reset her timeline.

Biff’s Tree Cutting Service

At one point during the movie, Tree determines that it’s easier for her to commit suicide than it is to be stalked by the Baby Face killer. So as the time-travel team tries to run through scenarios that might close the currently open loop, Tree absorbs the science behind their trials, then kills herself in spectacular fashion to restart the day. In one such death, she dives head first into a woodchipper, and the company doing the work is Biff’s Tree Cutting Service, a nod to the bully Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) from the BTTF trilogy. Bonus Sighting: In another death in the montage, Tree skydives without a parachute .Right before she jumps, there’s a sign in the plane that says “Like A Leaf.” It’s a fantastic nod to the joke Biff always messed up, “Make like a tree and leaf.”

88 mph

Tree knows that every time she dies, she restarts the day. She remembers what happens, but no one else does. After Tree decides to stay in the current timeline and live in an existence where her mother is still with her, she learns that Carter is murdered at the hospital. Tree can’t live with that, so she drives into a Power Station in order to kill the power in the city and stop Ryan’s time machine from resetting the loop. I know. It makes more sense in the movie. But as she’s racing toward the massive power grid, the camera shows Tree’s speedometer, and you bet your ass it’s on 88 miles per hour. Let’s call that scene, “The Power of Love.”

The dorm-room poster

This one is about as obvious as the actual Back to the Future Part II conversation. But whenever Tree wakes up in the dorm room, there are visible posters on the wall behind her. They Live! is prominent, as is Repo Man. The red poster right behind her, though, is a BTTF poster I’ve never seen before, and it’s so different from the traditional one-sheet with Marty standing in front of the Delorean, looking at his watch, that you might almost miss this blatant nod.

The Alan Silvestri musical cue

Back to the Future has one of the most memorable movie scores, thanks to the genius of Alan Silvestri. Happy Death Day 2U composer Bear McCreary puts musical nods to Silvestri’s score all over his sequel, though the most obvious is the twinkly, stars-falling music that happens at the :25 second moment of the above clip.

Should I stay, or should I go?

This one is a little more obtuse than the others. But the central conceit in Christopher Landon’s Happy Death Day 2U finds Tree (Jessica Rothe) deciding between living in an alternate reality where her mother is no longer deceased, or going back to her “normal” existence, where she’s together with Carter (Israel Broussard) – and he’s no longer with the horrible Danielle (Rachel Matthews). While not a direct lift, it’s similar to the conundrum that Dr. Emmet Brown faced in the concluding chapter of the Back to the Future trilogy. Stranded in the Old West, Doc (Christopher Lloyd) meets and falls in love with Clara (Mary Steenburgen). So when Marty (Michael J. Fox arrives to “rescue” Doc, he has to make a very tough decision of whether he should stay in this world, where he’s happy, even if he knows he’ll be shot to death.

You don’t need to know much about the Back to the Future trilogy to fully enjoy Happy Death Day 2U. The movie works entirely on its own if you have as much knowledge about Robert Zemeckis’ seminal films as Tree does. Meaning, none. But you absolutely do need to watch the original Happy Death Day in order to get the most out of this sequel, as the events of the new movie intertwine beautifully with everything that you remember about the first movie. And though this sequel is a total genre switch from slasher to time-travel thriller, they work together in continuity.

Writer/director Christopher Landon told our own Eric Eisenberg that he does have an idea in place for a third chapter in this story. And our own Mike Reyes wrote about how the mid-credits sequence in Happy Death Day 2U shows where a third chapter might be going, if in fact enough people turn out to support this movie, and warrant the greenlighting of Part Three. Are you going to check out Happy Death Day 2U? Or did you go already, and spot more BTTF references that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.

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War Machine’s Armor May Be Getting A Major Upgrade For Avengers: Endgame

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is currently on a precipice, with just a few months left before Phase Three concludes with Avengers: Endgame. Moviegoers have waited a year to find out what happened after Infinity War, where Josh Brolin’s Thanos succeeded in accruing the Infinity Stones and wiping out half the galaxy with the snap of his big purple finger. Fans and the surviving heroes were left mouth agape as the MCU was changed forever, and countless character turned to dust before our eyes.

The original Avengers were somehow spared from The Snap, alongside characters like Nebula, Rocket, and War Machine. The latter will once again be played by Don Cheadle, and is briefly seen during the first trailers for Endgame. Now it looks like War Machine may be getting his own Hulkbuster armor, as shown in leaked images of Endgame‘s Lego sets. Check it out below.

Is anybody else geeking out right now? With Tony Stark currently stranded in space, it looks like Rhodes is going to get a major upgrade to his tech, and take on a massive Hulkbuster suit previously worn by both Tony and Bruce Banner.

The good guys lost a great number of heroes during Thanos’ finger snap of death (aka The Decimation), so the surviving Avengers are going to need all the help they can get in order to fight the Mad Titan and hopefully reverse its affects. While Captain Marvel and Ant-Man will no doubt play a major role in Avengers: Endgame, it looks like War Machine has his own way to stepping up to the plate. And if the leaked Lego designs (via Reddit) are to be believed, Rhodes is getting some serious firepower in The Russo Brothers’ upcoming blockbuster.

It should be fascinating to see how each of the surviving heroes factor into the narrative of Avengers: Endgame. While Thanos believed in the snap because its victims were randomly selected, The Russo Brothers no doubt have a very specific plan for each of the characters who didn’t turn to dust before our eyes. With Tony currently stranded in space with Nebula, perhaps War Machine will step up to the plate as the primary mechanized Avenger. Although rumors also indicate that Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts will be suiting up in armor of her own.

If Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony spends most of Endgame separate from the rest of the surviving Avengers, one has to wonder how War Machine’s possible Hulkbuster armor will be constructed. It’s possible that Tony already had it made, as the genius playboy billionaire philanthropist has been planning ahead since the Battle of New York in The Avengers. Or perhaps Rhodes and Pepper will unite to craft this new armor, and give Don Cheadle’s signature Marvel character some extra firepower in the battle to come.

Alas, only time will tell how it all shake out. Marvel Studios is keeping its cards close to the chest for Endgame, with the first trailers only offering brief glimpses of the post-snap world. This includes a shot of Rhodes and Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang gearing up for an impending battle.

All will be revealed when Avengers: Endgame arrives in theaters on April 26th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Jumanji 3 Has Begun Filming, Here’s How Dwayne Johnson Celebrated

People weren’t sure what to expect when Dwayne Johnson announced a sequel to Jumanji. Many were worried the film wouldn’t live up to the memories they had of the beloved original that starred Robin Williams. However, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a massive hit so you can be sure a lot of people are looking forward to yet another sequel. That movie went into production yesterday and Dwayne Johnson celebrated the announcement on Twitter.

Dwayne Johnson wished everybody a Happy Valentine’s Day yesterday while also using the opportunity to make fans of Jumanji aware that the new movie has begun production. This movie is looking to have an incredibly fast turn around as it is currently set to hit theaters this December.

Along with the announcement comes a single image. We see a pair of hands holding the Jumanji video game cartridge from the last movie. It’s a little beat up but appears to be in one piece. Remnants of smashed electronics are visible in the case in the background.

At the end of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the four kids smashed the hell out of the Jumanji game and console in an attempt to be sure nobody ever accidentally played it again. It seems somebody has picked up the pieces.

Perhaps these hands belong to one of the kids who played the game initially, if they discover a reason they have to go back into the game world. We do know that all four teenagers who played the “real world” versions of the four game avatars will be back, making this new movie a more direct sequel to Welcome to the Jungle, than that film really was to the original Jumanji.

Alternatively, this could be some other character who has come across the game. The question then becomes if this person actually knows what they have or not.

Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, and Awkwafina have all been added to the cast of the new Jumanji, though we don’t know anything about the roles they’ll be playing.

It will be very interesting to see what Jumanji 3 does to make itself feel as fresh and unique as Welcome to the Jungle did. That movie updated the premise of the original Jumanji by turning the board game into a video game and putting the characters inside game avatars, played by Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart.

With the new movie being a direct sequel with all of the same main players, will going back into the video game world for another adventure be enough or has the new film found another way to update the premise to give new life to this new adventure? We’ll find out on December 13 when Jumanji 3, though it almost certainly will be called something else, hits theaters.

Ben Affleck Explains Why He’s Leaving Batman Behind

The DC live-action universe has had a fascinating run theaters, full of peaks and valleys. While Warner Bros. is currently surfing the massive success of Aquaman, it’s clear that the original plans for the DCEU are no longer coming to fruition. This includes Ben Affleck’s role as Batman, as the Oscar winner has officially hung up the cape and cowl for good, following the disappointing performance of Justice League and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

This news was a major bummer for DC fans, who enjoyed the hulking and jaded energy that Ben Affleck brought to his version of Bruce Wayne. But once he dropped out as a director and then star of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, thinks were looking bleak. Now Affleck has confirmed and explained his departure, saying:

Turn off the Bat signal, because Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne won’t be answering the call anytime soon. He’s officially left his superheroic role, making way for another director and actor to take the mantle and bring the Dark Knight to theaters with The Batman.

Ben Affleck’s comments come from his recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and is the first time he’s spoken about leaving his DC role at length. While it was rumored for a number of months before this confirmation, the news will no doubt be disappointing for DC fans who appreciated what he brought to the role. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice might have been critically panned, but Affleck’s performance was largely considered the saving point of the movie. He also popped up briefly in Suicide Squad, before taking on a larger role in Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s Justice League. But after all three of those movies were poorly reviewed, it seems that Affleck was ready to say goodbye to the bat.

Fans were eager to see what Ben Affleck would as the director of a Batman solo flick, considering his long tenure as a filmmaker. But it appears that he simply couldn’t figure out the right story to bring to the silver screen, which is why he ultimately stepped down and made room for Matt Reeves. And while he was originally going to star in the developing project, it was recently revealed that Reeves is bringing another actor in to play a younger version of Bruce Wayne for the noir-inspired blockbuster.

While Batman fans may be walking around with Sad Affleck faces, hope isn’t lost for the character in the DC Universe. Matt Reeves seems to be moving forward with the development of The Batman, and Gotham City’s finest will be a major focus with projects like Birds of Prey and Joker. Now we’ll just have to see who ends up replacing Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight.

The next installment in the DC Universe will be Shazam! on April 5, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

How Alita: Battle Angel Brought Its Crazy Motorball Sequence To Life

Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel is a very faithful adaptation of its beloved source material, but it does make one notable change. Borrowing an element that isn’t introduced in the manga until closer to the middle of the series, the film introduces audiences to the violent sport known as motorball: a deadly, dangerous game played by cyborgs at high speeds.

It’s an interesting addition not only from a visual effects perspective, but also in the movie’s storytelling – and I felt compelled to ask about it when I interviewed Robert Rodriguez, star Rosa Salazar, and producer Jon Landau during the movie’s domestic press day in Los Angeles earlier this month.

Sitting down with the trio in a recreation of one of the sets from the movie, my first question was about the introduction of motorball to Alita: Battle Angel and the challenges of bring it to life – and Robert Rodriguez opened by saying that there was a mix of positives and negatives within the execution. In the case of the former, for example, the film doesn’t actually feature any full scenes of the sport being played, so that took a bit of narrative weight off their shoulders and allowed the production to have a bit more fun with it:

It wasn’t in the two books that [James Cameron] was adapting into the script, but he pulled it out of book three and four. He said, ‘I think fans of the manga would be really upset if they got an Alita movie and there’s no motorball. And he found a really cool way to use it where they’re not even playing the game; they’re all just trying to kill her – which I thought was awesome because then it’s more character driven.

Writing the script, James Cameron handed Robert Rodriguez a pretty handy shortcut that avoided a sequence dedicated to explaining the rules of motorball… but that was just one item taken off of a still very full plate. Just because there was no need for an exposition dump (one that notably didn’t actually exist in the manga either) didn’t mean that the filmmakers didn’t have to still figure out the mechanics of the sport, and that process created its own special issues.

As an example, the director explained how even figuring out how fast the characters needed to go was a process with hurdles. While the Alita: Battle Angel source material did provide some guidance, the practicalities of filmmaking required a few alterations in the physics department, which then themselves required further alterations in other areas. Rodriguez explained,

I did a bunch of speed tests really early on, just with some animatics in Austin, trying to figure out how fast they really needed to be going so that it would feel fast – because it was always described as being like a 100 mph. Which, you know, when you put it on a track, because the track doesn’t have a lot of discernible visuals, it just didn’t seem fast enough. So it’s more like 400 mph just to get it, and that means right away we’re out of track, so we had to just keep elongating the track. There’s a lot of cheats in there to get the feeling, this breathless feeling of the track.

Of course, just because Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron didn’t fully outline the rules of motorball in the making of Alita: Battle Angel doesn’t mean that they’ve cast the task aside permanently. While the making of this movie didn’t make that job a requirement, Rodriguez added that it’s something that would certainly be done for a sequel:

Because the story point was just that they were trying to kill her. We can just throw that out the door and go, ‘Okay. As long as it feels like there’s some sport being played, we don’t really have to figure it out in this movie. We will eventually!

As for the performance perspective, the majority of the professional motorball sequence is primarily brought to life with pure visual effects – but that doesn’t mean that Rosa Salazar was totally sidelined for the experience. Obviously she wasn’t strapped to any kind of machine that would whip her around at 400 mph, but there were particular parts in the making where her talents were required.

Speaking to her work on the motorball scene, Rosa Salazar noted that the work was a bit more fractured, but could highlight the moments her involvement (primarily involving close-ups and dialogue) – with Robert Rodriguez chiming in to add an extra detail.

Rosa Salazar: Here’s the thing – there were specific moments during all of those motorball battles that we actually shot separately. When he’s trying to push my head into the ground and I break… a couple of different moments. Obviously right before I bust through the glass at the starting line, ‘Take it easy on me, guys.’ Taking off. All of those things were shot.

Robert Rodriguez: We had a start line where all of them were together and she could actually interact with everybody. Even though all their bodies were going to be replaced, we still had to photograph all of their faces.

You can watch Robert Rodriguez and Rosa Salazar discuss the process of bringing the motorball sequence to life by clicking play on the video below:

If you’re now totally pumped to see this insane action on the big screen, the good news is that you can do it right now. Alita: Battle Angel – which has Rosa Salazar joined by an outstanding cast including Jennifer Connelly, Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, and more – is now playing in theaters everywhere. We’ll have plenty more about the film coming your way in the next few days as it fights its box office competition during the Valentine’s Day weekend, and be on the lookout for more behind the scenes stories.

For more of what’s coming to a theater near you in the weeks and months ahead, be sure to check out our 2019 Release Calendar.

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