In a world where a cyborg hit-man dog-lover roams around thug-driven bars, with his cybernetically enhanced rottweilers, Alita: Battle Angel’s environment and lavish sets is a beautiful convoluted piece of world building. Composed by the one and only Robert Rodriguez, famed and critically acclaimed director behind The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D (No, I’m not joking), comes his most grounded venture by far, which isn’t saying much due to how Alita: Battle Angel is essentially a film about an A.I with extensively expressive eyes, who has the odd martial arts move, in which the story is taken place in the future, during the rise of the 26th century. Rodriguez is a fine man, with some genuinely fun concepts. The main problem with most of his films, in his focus, and Alita is no exception.
With Mr. “Lizard-Man” James Cameron on his side (the same director who is planning a series of Avatar sequels, more than a decade after the original), the main contrived nature of this ambitious adaptation, more seems like two a-list Hollywood directors fanboying over a manga, while simultaneously jerking off to the original material and translating it to screen, rather than a full fleshed motivational in depth analysis regarding the subject, to create a film that’s more than just technologically advanced filler.
Alita’s motion graphics sure are impressive, with advanced motion capture technology passing through the threshold that is the uncanny valley, creating a human-like CGI character that moves, breaths, and semi-behaves like a human. With all it’s glorious visuals in store, the one thing Alita most fails in, is having any humanity within the plot. None of these characters feel real, especially Alita, who is specifically designed to be, from both the directors and writers point of view, a pro-feminist protagonist that’s used as a reflection between humanity and artificial intelligence. The stilted dialogue, the awkward pauses, and the obviously cliched manga-inspired set-pieces are ridiculously out of touch, making the film feel like an abused and battered anime body pillow, more than something that should belong on celluloid.
Alita: Battle Angel means well, with all it’s prior anticipation and technological advances. It just fails to meet the criteria to be anything more than below average. At the end of the day, producer John Landau, writer James Cameron, and director Robert Rodriguez belong more in a Sakura-Con 2009 commercial, rather than working on a multi-million dollar manga adaption. Everybody wish 20th Century Fox a farewell, because Alita may just be their final bomb.
Alita: Battle Angel is Now Playing Nationwide