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‘Alita: Battle Angel’ movie finally arrives, to lukewarm reviews

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'Alita: Battle Angel' movie finally arrives, to lukewarm reviews

LONDON (Reuters) – Some 15 years in the making and after multiple delays, sci-fi epic “Alita: Battle Angel” finally arrived on Thursday, but the Japanese manga-inspired action film earned only lukewarm reviews.

FILE PHOTO: Honoree Robert Rodriguez poses during 2014 NCLR ALMA Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California October 10, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

The tale of a cyborg heroine in a post-apocalyptic world, “Alita: Battle Angel” was a passion project for acclaimed “Avatar” director James Cameron for years before he turned it over to director Robert Rodriguez.

Speaking at the world premiere in London on Thursday, Rodriguez said Cameron, who first wrote a script in 2004, had crafted “a story that could really play around the world, even to people who don’t know manga.”

“It’s a more universal story than I think people are expecting,” the director told Reuters.

Rodriguez has said the movie’s budget was around $150 million. The release date was pushed back twice by Hollywood studio Twenty-First Century Fox.

Early reviews were largely disappointing.

While praising the film’s slick action sequences and the expressive, huge-eyed Alita – who is played by actress Rosa Salazar with CGI effects – many movie critics found the characters thinly developed.

Britain’s Independent newspaper said “Alita” lacked the emotional pull of Cameron’s other blockbusters, “Avatar” and “Titanic.” Hollywood website The Wrap called the movie “a glossy muddle” while Britain’s Guardian newspaper said it was “a vanilla dystopian romance.”

Los Angeles-based IndieWire was more enthusiastic, saying the film “lives up to its potential while leaving you wanting more.”

Manga movies have proved a hard sell to Western filmgoers in the past, but Cameron, who retains a writing and producing credit, said on Thursday that “Alita” was different.

“We know the film is a crowd pleaser. We know that for sure. Now, we know the audience will go with her (Alita) on her journey and believe in her and feel her spirit,” he said.

The movie has also faced criticism for not casting Asian actors in the lead parts.

Yukito Kishiro, who wrote the original graphic novels, said on Thursday he did not share the misgivings.

“I think it’s a perfect cast. Had they had, say, a Japanese actress who can act the great action scenes, sure. But I suppose the casting people decided to go with what we have because there is a reason for that. I’m happy with that,” Kishiro told Reuters on the London red carpet.

“Alita: Battle Angel” opens in the UK on Feb. 6 and in the United States on Feb. 14.

Writing by Jill Serjeant; Editing by James Dalgleish

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Entertainment

Son of singer Ronnie Milsap found dead on houseboat at Tennessee marina, reports say

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Son of singer Ronnie Milsap found dead on houseboat at Tennessee marina, reports say

Todd Milsap, the 49-year-old son of country music singer Ronnie Milsap, was found dead Saturday aboard his houseboat at a marina in Antioch, Tenn., according to reports.

The body was discovered by Todd Milsap’s son, who hadn’t heard from his father in two days, police said, according to the Tennessean of Nashville.

The death appeared to be medically related, Nashville’s WKRN-TV reported, but no further details were available.

The body was discovered while a mandatory evacuation was underway at the marina because of heavy flooding, Nashville’s FOX 17 reported.

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“Our son Todd was a force of joy, life, creativity and giving from the moment he was born,” Ronnie Milsap said, according to the newspaper. “He made such a mark on our world in his years on this planet, everyone who met him was richer for it. It is too soon to even understand this loss, and I hope it’s something no one has to bare. Please keep his three children, their mothers and Joyce and I in your prayers at such a fragile time.”

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Joyce Milsap was the mother of Todd Milsap.

Ronnie Milsap, 76, is a six-time Grammy winner, best known for the songs “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “(There’s) No Getting’ Over Me.”

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Glenn Close, ‘Beale Street,’ win indie film honors ahead of Oscars

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Glenn Close, 'Beale Street,' win indie film honors ahead of Oscars

2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards – Show – Santa Monica, California, U.S., February 23, 2019 – Glenn Close accepts her award for Best Female Lead for the film “The Wife.” REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actress Glenn Close and racial injustice movie “If Beale Street Could Talk” were the big winners on Saturday at the Independent Spirit Awards, a day ahead of the Oscars ceremony.

Mexican family drama “Roma,” which is seen as a strong contender for best picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday, won the Spirit award for best international film.

The Spirit Awards are the annual honors given to Hollywood’s low-budget movies made for under $20 million.

Close, 71, won the best actress award for playing a submissive spouse who finally finds her voice in “The Wife.” She has also emerged as the favorite to win the Oscar on Sunday for her role in the movie.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” — based on late writer James Baldwin’s tender 1974 novel about a young New York couple whose lives are wrecked when the man is imprisoned for a rape he did not commit — came away as the biggest winner.

The film took the Spirit Award for best feature film, best supporting actress for Regina King, and best director for Barry Jenkins, whose last film, “Moonlight,” won the best picture Oscar two years ago.

Winners often go onto success at the Academy Awards the following day. King’s performance as a mother seeking justice for her son is seen as a strong contender in the supporting actress Oscar category, although “If Beale Street Could Talk” failed to get a best picture Oscar nomination.

On Saturday, Richard E. Grant was named best supporting actor for his role in literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, boosting his profile for the Oscars where he is also nominated.

Ethan Hawke was named best actor for religious drama “First Reformed.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler

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Bill Maher mocks Middle Americans as less ‘affluent and educated,’ saying ‘they want to be us’

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Bill Maher mocks Middle Americans as less 'affluent and educated,' saying 'they want to be us'

“Real Time” host Bill Maher on Friday derided Middle Americans in red states as envious of their blue-state counterparts, in wide-ranging remarks that also included criticism of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for not building its headquarters in poorer states.

HBO’s Maher blamed Bezos for pitting wealthy cities against one another in a real estate battle over where the next Amazon headquarters would be built, while ignoring states that he argued would benefit most from thousands of new jobs. This, after a previous deal to build in New York City fell through.

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“We have a problem in America called spatial geographic inequality which means the most affluent and educated people are clustered in just a few cities,” he said.

He said there are “two Americas,” referencing states that historically vote Democratic versus ones that skew Republican.

“We have orchestras and theaters districts and world-class shopping. We have Chef Wolfgang Puck, they have Chef Boyardee.”

He continued: “The blue parts of America are having a big prosperity party while the big sea of red feels like their invitation got lost in the mail — and they still use the mail.”

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The comedian went on to explain why he thinks red-state voters are so “pissed off.”

“The fly-over states have become the passed-over states, that’s why red state voters are so pissed off. They don’t hate us, they want to be us.”

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