Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
I sit here post-film, a touch deflated. I wanted to love Alita: Battle Angel. Not because I was a fan of the original Manga source material, but because I think James Cameron (Aliens, The Terminator 2) is a superb storyteller (though I will admit he struggles with dialogue sometimes) and I loved the overall design of the film.
Sadly, Alita is a mess. A grab bag of ideas plucked from the comics (I’m guessing) and loosely assembled into a story-like structure. There are at least two or three movie ideas squeezed into this production, and none of them are given the development needed to tell a coherent story. The result is yet another style over substance sci-fi spectacular filled with underdeveloped characters that you’ll be hard-pressed to care about.
On the plus side, the action is decently staged, and the production design is excellent. The Alita character is in parts impressive, but I think there are more “primitive” visual effects available that would have rendered the character more effectively. Why not simply film Rosa Salazar’s real face and just make the eyes bigger? As delivered, every time Alita opens her mouth, things get a bit “uncanny valley.”
As the film concludes, some story threads are closed, and others are left hanging around to see what the weekend box office totals are like. I have a feeling this will do well internationally, so it might get a sequel. If it does, I’m still game because I believe there’s a great film in this content. I just hope the next project gets a singular creative voice at the helm. Someone that can make us care about these characters and make the technology serve the story.
Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mehershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Screenplay by: James Cameron, Laete Kalogridis, Robert Rodriguez
Rating: PG Running Time: 2 hr 2 min.