Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson, Mahershala Ali
Director: Robert Rodriguez
I’ve seen a trailer for Alita: Battle Angel in front of more than a handful of movies for almost a year. I hated that trailer so much that I’m not necessarily excited for the movie to come out, but I’m more excited that I don’t have to watch that trailer anymore. All I got from that trailer is that the film would look nice, the plot would typical, and the love scenes would be horrific. And to the surprise of little, that just about sums up this movie. The visual effects are gorgeous, the plot is pretty straightforward, but the romantic elements are just so unnecessary.
The film follows Alita (Salazar), a cyborg with no memory who has been built together by Dr. Dyson Ido (Waltz). As Alita starts to learn more about the world around her and regains her memories, Alita must deal the consequences of the past and how they impact the people she is close with now. The main thing the film does right is the movie is honestly incredibly aesthetically pleasing. The scenes are fluid and make you feel apart of the world and even though everyone knows these scenes were filmed predominantly with computers, it never really feels that way. The blend between human actors and CGI make the world feel as huge and complicated as the story makes it out to be. Speaking of the plot, the story is pretty standard, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be exciting and action-packed when it needs to be. It’s a mostly typical hero’s journey and nothing about it jumps out as particularly groundbreaking or distractingly mediocre. The main issue this movie suffers from is poor casting and a nonsense romantic plotline that completely nowhere. My complaint about the casting is that Salazar is currently 33 years old playing a teenage robot in the movie. Now I know movies typically cast older actors to play teenagers due to lack of quality actors in that age range, but at what point do you say enough is enough? With the exception of movies that intentionally use groundbreaking effects and makeup to completely transform their stars in real-life people outside of their actor’s age range, there’s no reason for movies to cast this out-of-range, especially in a movie like this. Considering Maika Monroe and Zendaya were both considered for this and are closer to Alita’s age, I feel like those choices would’ve made more sense. Outside of Salazar, there was no real reason that so many incredibly talented actors ended up in this project. When you have actors like Waltz and Ali in a movie, it makes it a borderline must-watch with Ali in particularly one of Hollywood’s elite actors in my opinion. When you give them a generic script and neuter their roles, you take away elements that could have significantly enhanced the movie and replaced them with things that will just pass the time. Moving onto the absolute worst part of the movie, the love story, this may be the thing that holds Alita: Battle Angel back the most. Alita and her love interest Hugo (Johnson) have absolutely no chemistry, their moments together have the worst dialogue of the movie, and they serve merely as a distraction from the main plot elements that actually seem to matter. Hugo’s subplot is a complete waste of time and offers nothing new to the story and undercuts a more interesting character in Zapan (Ed Skrein). For a project that James Cameron has been working on for so long, it’s baffling that decisions like would distract in an otherwise pretty solid movie, but here we are with the relatively underwhelming result that we ended up with.
Overall, after everything is said and done, there is enough of a foundation and source material where I’d actually be interested in seeing a sequel in the next few years. If the future movie goes with more of a cyberpunk version of John Wick feel as compared to the angsty teen finding herself story that we got, then realistically the sequel could be better than the original. It’s obvious that the people involved care about this film, so if they get another opportunity, I hope they capitalize on it and make the most of the interesting world they have set up in Alita: Battle Angel.
Overall Score: 6/10