Rose Salazar plays main character Alita in this February blockbuster
Alita: Battle Angel arrived in theaters two weeks ago on February 14th becoming the newest of films that James Cameron has worked on, this time in both producing and screenplay. Mr. Cameron has now produced 31 released films over a period of 41 years and has written even more. Alongside director Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Spy Kids, Sin City), he made the 1990 manga series Battle Angel Alita, by Yukito Kishiro, come to life. Even with the movie’s advanced CGI, bold design choices, and exciting action scenes it only received a 59% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 54% on Metacritic. But should you give it a chance?
Alita: Battle Angel definitely deserves some of the criticism it gets, especially when it comes to the story and overall takeaway of the film. Up until two thirds through the movie, the plot is little more than a love story in a futuristic setting. More importantly, I did not feel attached to Alita, played by Rosa Salazar, or her love interest, Hugo. Whether this was because of the often cringe-worthy dialogue or the fact that the two characters had known each other for only days, it was hard to get over. To be perfectly frank, the acting was not great in general. Christoph Waltz, a usual favorite of mine, seemed clunky in his delivery of lines, which really detracted from my experience of the film. The main antagonist also was uninteresting, and after leaving the movie, I did not feel fulfilled by the plot itself or even eager to see a sequel. The end of the movie quite obviously hints at a second film being made so it is unfortunate that this is not something I am too hopeful for. Something, whether in the dialogue or fast pacing, felt missing in the movie, and it is not easy to make a memorable film if the foundation is simply hollow.
While clearly not without its flaws, Alita: Battle Angel does deliver in some aspects. Without a doubt, the visuals in this movie will catch your eye, pun not intended. Alita’s disproportionately large eyes, meant to mimic the manga art style used in Battle Angel Alita, were incredibly engaging for me just from watching the trailer. I admire this touch both because it referenced what the movie was based on and because it made Alita undeniably unique. James Cameron’s visual effects are always stunning and Alita: Battle Angel is no exception for me. The numerous cyborg characters were such seamless blends of animation and acting that by the end of the movie they seemed more real than CGI. Also, many of the zoomed-out shots of the gritty Iron City and the floating, wealthy Zalem to be incredibly beautiful. From detailed robotic dogs to well-done 3D, this film is worth seeing just based on how it looks. One could also argue that the mediocre dialogue and character development make more sense in the context of a graphic novel or manga, even though this does not excuse any lazy writing.
After leaving the movie theater after watching all 122 minutes of Alita’s runtime I felt somehow refreshed. As much as the plot lacked, I can not say that I left dissatisfied. However, after reflection, it has become clear that I am not excited to see a sequel; what I am hopeful for is a more thoughtful approach to the sci-fi genre done by James Cameron, a talented cast and crew, and Weta Digital, which is Peter Jackson’s massive visual effects company. Even if you feel no desire to watch Alita: Battle Angel, it is far too easy to get discouraged to see a movie just based on online critiques. The views and opinions of critics should be respected, but some websites, like Rotten Tomatoes, discourage people to have unpopular opinions just because some experts disagree. If you are a fan of eye-catching sci-fi worlds and fun action movies, I recommend Alita: Battle Angel to you.