Movie ReviewsAlita: Battle Angel – Simple to a Fault (Early Review)

dannythemoviemanFebruary 3, 2019

*Says in Conner4Real voice* “Wow, so expensive!”

Synopsis: When Alita awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido, a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love. (20th Century Fox)

Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, and Mahershala Ali

Writers: James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis, and Robert Rodriguez

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Rating: PG-13 (United States)

Running Time: 122mins


Robert Rodriguez is a visionary, and whether you like or dislike his films, this is something that most can agree on. It is definitely debatable in terms of quality – his films don’t always have the most engaging stories or most powerful screenplays. He has a distinct visual style, however, and it differentiates him from every other filmmakers working right now. Whether it be the comic-book style graphics of Sin City or the ultra cheesy and cartoon-ish look of the Spy Kids films, he plays with visuals in a very unique way that can be applauded.

With Alita: Battle Angel, he is doing something ambitious – adapting a Japanese Manga with his own visual flare and a mind blowing, questionably high budget that exceeds 200 million US dollars. Why any movie studio/financier would let Rodriguez adapt an almost underground property for the same amount of money that many major superhero movies are being made for is baffling. Considering Rodriguez’ vision, it was easy to go into this film with an open mind. After being pushed from July 2018 to December 2018 and finally to February 2019 shows anything but a sign of confidence for the studio. After having seen the finished film, this has become clear.

While this may not be a full bloated disaster, there is a bit worth applauding Rodriguez and co. for completing successfully. As expected, it is its visuals that should be the primary reason as to why anyone should see this. The world building on display here is phenomenal, and is like barely anything seen in recent memory. The character design, the towns were awe-inducing, especially when seen on an IMAX 3D screen. But, when you think about it, it was most likely all the money spent towards this that did that and more than particularly talent behind it.

Everything surrounding this lone feat is practically a train wreck, though. The dialogue and screenwriting is appallingly bad, featuring conversations that seem like they were written by a bot with no knowledge whatsoever about true human interaction. Every single line spoken in this film is questionable at best, not only from a writing standpoint but also an acting standpoint. Many of the award-winning performers that say these lines only emphasize how bad they truly are, as not even them can save it.

The film is also shockingly uninteresting. Being marketed as a sci-fi action film of epic proportion, this was rather just a low-key drama about this girl/robot obviously named Alita (Salazar) discovering her identity and is told with a pace and structure that simply made no sense for its intended audience.

It’s hard to not to be disappointed with Alita: Battle Angel, however at the end of the day, it was always going to be a film that had nothing going for it beyond being a feast for the eyes. Sure, seeing it on the IMAX 3D screen, surrounding your whole field of view is satisfying to a certain extent but is not quite enough to justify its existence. Definitely a disappointment as a gut reaction, but maybe it was always going to be this way?

Score: 4/10

*Alita: Battle Angel opens in theatres on February 14th*

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