Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel

★★ ½

Rated on a 5-star scale.

Do you remember seeing Avengers: Infinity War for the first time, seeing Bruce Banner take off his helmet in the Hulkbuster armor and thinking “wow that looks pretty bad”? Imagine that, but for an entire movie. That is Alita: Battle Angel.

Alita and Dr. Ido | © 2019 20th Century Fox

Set centuries in the future, Alita: Battle Angel is the story of cyborg girl Alita (Rosa Salazar), who is found abandoned in a scrapyard by one Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz). After being restored to working condition by Dr. Ido, she struggles to remember any part of her past. While navigating her new environment of Iron City, she befriends Hugo (Keean Johnson) and encounters dangerous enemies that plot to have her destroyed.

I really wish filmmakers would stop trying to dazzle us with these over-the-top CGI movies. The special effects really don’t look good enough to use as a crutch for a film.

Let me expand on that. The scenes in Alita with minimal or no CGI? They look good. The scenes in Alita with all CGI? To be honest, they look good too. But the scenes that blend the two? Bad.

Wow, this guy looks stunning! | © 2019 20th Century Fox

About halfway through the film, the characters watch a game of Motorball, a ridiculous professional sport that serves to show off the movie’s special effects, similar to the Mega-Race sequence in Spy Kids 3. This Motorball sequence is actually one of the best-looking scenes of the film. Why? Because it’s pretty much all CGI. The scene begins to look absurd when the helmets of the players start falling off, revealing their real human faces plastered onto these bombastic CGI mech suits.

Alita is the only exception to this though. I think she looks very good, and I think that’s because her face is made using CGI, at least partly, along with her body. Unlike most of the other cyborgs in this movie.

Okay, so what about the story?

I don’t really know. There isn’t a whole lot to say here. Not much happens story-wise in this movie. Alita fights the same enemy three different times in this movie, and each time there is hardly any struggle. She just wins. She also finds out about her past and such. You know, the stuff you would expect from this type of movie.

Mahershala Ali as Vector, aka “Bad Man” | © 2019 20th Century Fox

The acting is fine. Alita has a pretty good cast. It’s a shame they were made to play such dead characters. What an absolute waste of Christoph Waltz and Mahershala Ali, two phenomenal actors who, in this movie, are made to play “good doctor guy” and “conniving bad man”, respectively. They do it very well though, so that’s something to be happy about.

One thing I will praise about the movie is its setting. Alita does a pretty good job at constructing a post-apocalyptic world that actually looks and feels interesting. The foreboding sky world of Zalem, a heaven-like goal for many of the characters in the movie, hovers over the main location of Iron City serving as a unique set piece. Despite using terminology such as “The Fall” to describe the film world’s apocalypse event, Alita does not fall into the trap of taking place in a dull and dark world. Instead, it creates a lively environment that is fun to watch on the screen.

Alita and Hugo in the streets of Iron City | © 2019 20th Century Fox

Maybe I’m being too harsh on Alita. But I really don’t see a whole lot to admire. It can be fun to watch at points, but the story is average at best. Sure, the special effects can be impressive, but that really isn’t enough to carry a movie for me.

The Verdict

It’s like Spy Kids 3-D but not nearly as entertaining | © 2019 20th Century Fox

Alita: Battle Angel markets itself as a visual spectacle, but sadly the other aspects of the movie don’t match that description. An uninspired story, flat characters, and an overreliance on CGI add up to a predictable and underwhelming flick. If you’re looking for a mindless, fun-filled action movie, stick with Marvel.  

My Rating

★★ ½

Rated on a 5-star scale.

One thought on “Alita: Battle Angel

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