It has been a long time coming for Alita: Battle Angel. Based on a Manga graphic novel, the film is directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-written by James Cameron.
I was underwhelmed.
In a futuristic year of the 26th century, Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz), a surgeon specializing in cybernetic replacements discovered the torso of a young woman whose brain is still alive. He took the girl back and gave her a cybernetic body, treating her like the daughter he lost.
In the world, there is a floating city named Zalem which is where the special people live and the planet below is where all of the rest of humanity has populated known as Iron City. Everyone from the earth wishes they could make it to the city in the sky.
When she awakens, the young girl does not remember anything of her past and is given the name of Alita by Dr. Ido. It soon is shown that this young girl with the new cybernetic body is a fighter of high level and more than just another pretty face.
I had several problems with Alita. The biggest one is that I just could not get past the CGI of the characters. The surroundings of Iron City was amazing and most of the CGI of the action scenes was tremendous, but every time they put the camera on Alita or any of the other cyborgs with human heads, I thought the CGI looked rubbery and fake. The characters reminded me very much of Steppenwolf from Justice League, and he was my absolute least favorite part of that movie. I remember thinking immediately how much I noticed that this was CGI and how, during Avengers: Infinity War, I had not thought of Thanos as being CGI until 3/4 into the film. I thought the distinction was clear.
As I said though, the action CGI was done considerably well and was, for the most part, fun to watch.
Rosa Salazar, who was the motion capture actress of Alita, does a fine job. I think she delivered as much as you could expect from this film. I felt as if Christoph Waltz was out of place any time the film took his character outside of the house/lab. When he ventured out onto the streets of Iron City, Waltz stuck out, and not in a positive way.
The story itself was pretty lacking. It was long and the film felt long. There were distinct moments where I found the movie dull and I was wanting more. I did not buy the relationship between Alita and Hugo (Keean Johnson) and there is one scene here involving Alita’s heart that was downright laugh-out-loud funny when it was supposed to emotionally resonate.
Mahershala Ali played Vector here and he is fine. I would have liked to have seen him as more of the villain than what he turned out to be.
The film was not a total fail, but I did find myself wishing it was over on more than one occasion. It certainly sets up for a sequel that, actually, could be more intriguing than this one was.