James Cameron is the critically acclaimed Michael Bay; he tells his stories through towering set pieces and expansive world building and in the process racks in a LOT of money. Avatar remains the top highest grossing film of all time at $2.7 billion dollars, with Titanic just behind at $2.1 so evidently the man knows what he's doing. Teaming up this time with Sin City's Robert Rodriguez, the rumour has it that Cameron waited ten years for technology to advance in order for him to adapt this manga cartoon. Although he (only) produces and writes here, Alita: Battle Angel is gaining a lot of attention for the two creative mega minds together at work.
In the year 2563, earth is left a desolate wasteland after a cataclysmic war known as "The Fall". Whilst scavenging in the junkyard metropolis of Iron City Dr. Dyson Ido discovers a deactivated cyborg. Following heavy repair and maintenance Alita is reborn, but she can't remember who she is and must learn of what immense power she possesses.
Despite a jaw dropping $200 million budget Alita: Battle Angel's wings are clipped. Cameron's sheeny and superfluous special effects can't rescue this overall cringeworthy tween sci-fi. There is a distinct lack of character, style and (surprisingly) world building - Cameron aims for B-movie, popcorn fun but he barely delivers that. Falling victim to the endless cycle of Hollywood white washing - like we saw with Scarlett Johanson in 2017's Ghost in the Shell - Alita: Battle Angel remains unfaithful to its Japanese source material.
Rosa Salazar stars as the big eyed bot, although her performance never really shines through the endless slathers of CG on her face. The entire film stresses her importance as this extraordinary warrior, but Cameron tries to humanise her with relatable teenage worries - specifically boy problems. In doing so, he undercuts her importance as a character and despite his best efforts in some agreeably bad-ass action sequences - Alita is a forgettable protagonist with extreme feminist qualities uncomfortably forced upon her. Not to forget Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali - three amazing actors all wasted in roles that are given zero development, just token star names for the billboards it seems. The film emphasises Alita's courageous step up to confront evil, and yet she faces no genuine threat.
Along with this Iron City is an insipid and unimpressive setting. From time to time Rodriguez's bitter style gleams through the otherwise clunky metal action scenes - but for the most part Alita: Battle Angel is dominated by Cameron's erratic filmmaking - regardless of the fact he isn't even directing. This should've been an astronomical merging of two creative giants, but alternatively we have a generic adventure flick that is too focused on setting up other sequels than actually creating an adequate origin story.
Alita: Battle Angel
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.