By Jared Sleppy
Alita: Battle Angel is an…interesting movie about a cyborg girl trying to figure out who she is and what her purpose is. It’s directed by James Cameron and it’s definitely not one of his better works. Considering he directed Titanic and The Terminator it’s quite a bit to live up to. Apparently, this movie was based off an anime, but I have neither seen it nor did I know about this until after the movie was over. When I heard this, it made since considering the way some of the scenes unfolded. Having that said, this review is purely based off the movie and is no way related to the show.
The plot of the movie, overall, is pretty boring and really failed to pull me into the universe. It wasn’t offensively bad, but it did feel like a waste of time. There were some really fun and clever action sequences that had me on the edge of my seat, but when you don’t care about the story or the characters, it can be a little bit difficult to enjoy them. However, unlike a lot of PG-13 movies nowadays, there actually felt like there were high stakes. There were characters that actually died in the film and it was very gory for its rating. When some of cyborgs were sliced, they would have blue blood instead of red which was clearly purposeful to keep the movie PG-13 instead of R.
As for the actors in the movie, there weren’t any characters that had amazing performances that blew me away. Christoph Waltz was one of the main characters playing Dr. Ido and he was serviceable. His character as a whole was somewhat bland but not awful. As for the voice and motion-capture acting of Rosa Salazar, it was pretty well done for the most part. There were some scenes where Alita’s CG effects looked strange, but it was mostly passable.
One of the villains, Grewishka, was a fun and well-acted character with a cool design. However, the movie failed to provide a satisfactory way to progress his character. Despite one change of gear from the beginning to the middle portions of the movie, he was never shown progressing or becoming a better fighter. When Alita battled him in the final scene, Alita got a huge upgrade in armor and Grewishka didn’t. Since Alita beat him in a fight twenty minutes earlier, of course Alita was going to win again. I was very disappointed with this character, because I feel like he could have been a lot more of a threat to Alita and achieving her goal.
The funniest part of the movie had to be when Hugo, the love interest of Alita, was climbing to get to the floating city. Alita was trying to avoid Hugo from falling off but his robotic arm fell off and he fell to his death. I broke out into laughter in the theatre as his terribly animated CG robotic cyborg body spiraled towards the ground below as he screamed in terror. It was supposed to be a sad moment, but I couldn’t contain myself. Good thing I didn’t disturb too many people considering the theatre was basically empty.
At the end of the movie, they had the gall to leave us on a cliffhanger. They assumed that the audience would want more which is extremely bold considering the product they released. I tell you what though, you can’t deny the guts that James Cameron has considering he is already planning four Avatar sequels despite the first one not having come out yet.