Alita: Battle Angel

Directed by Robert Rodriguez best known for 2005’s Sin City and produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau best known for 1997’s Titanic and 2009’s Avatar, Alita: Battle Angel is a fairly underwhelming science fiction film that has visually stunning special effects and CGI but is bogged down by an uninspired and formulaic script. Set several hundred years in the future when Earth has been devastated from an alien attack, the film follows the powerful warrior cyborg Alita, played by Rose Salazar, who is discovered by the scientist Dr. Dyson Ido, played by two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz. He adopts her like his daughter who died years ago and unintentionally allows her to be discovered by the malevolent leaders of the city of Zalem which hovers above Iron City and is forbidden for anyone from the Iron City to enter. As she is pursued by the powerful Iron City businessman Vector, played by Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, and his associate Dr. Chiren, played by Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, Alita falls in love with a human named Hugo who introduces her to the extremely popular sport of Motorball. Against the wishes of Ido, she decides to become a legal bounty hunter known as a Hunter-Warrior and try out to become a competitor in Motorball. With increasing CGI violence in which Alita skillfully fights off cyborgs and robotically enhanced humans, the influences of Japanese manga, which the film is based upon, and Asian martial arts become readily apparent, contributing to the movie’s unique cinematic style and aesthetic. Overall, despite the advanced use of CGI, I found it to be less of a fully fleshed-out movie that rises above the rest of the sci-fi genre and more of a way to set up for commercial success that it will obviously try to take advantage of with sequels. Furthermore, I often felt myself distracted from the story as a result of the visuals bordering on the uncanny valley in which the attempt at realism does not necessarily work effectively; on a similar note, I found the extremely large eyes of Alita to be often absurd and unnecessary.

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