Filmmaker, box-office juggernaut, James Cameron has faintly done boring. Visually epic? Sure. Groundbreaking? Undoubtedly. But boring? Hardly ever. Yet this sci-fi blockbuster, that Cameron co-wrote and produced for director Robert Rodriguez, tests the waters of boredom often. It’s incredible visual effects and some of its cyberpunk action scenes are what keeps this film engaging. So basically, it’s everything the screenplay has nothing to do with, because my lord the screenplay from Cameron, Rodriguez and Laeta Kalogridis is quite atrocious. As it continually keeps this film paper thin.
Alita: Battle Angel is a pileup of clichés. It’s one more story of the not quite human brought to life with arrogance and cutting-edge science. It fills with moments of bogged down exposition and a cheesy romantic relationship. The story throughout fits and starts through the narrative line of the title character’s journey of self-awareness. It’s embellished with the aforementioned dreary, cheesy romance that’s regularly interrupted with action scenes. Essentially Alita: Battle Angel is a post-apocalyptic meet-cute that morphs from another take on the Pinocchio story into a sitcom-esque father-and-daughter duet. Oh, did I forget to mention, except that every relationship in this film is extraordinarily underdeveloped.
Everything in Alita: Battle Angel tends to remind you of something you’ve seen before. But the visual wizardry of James Cameron is all over this film, as this film, much like Avatar owes a lot to it’s performance-capture and visual effects work. Except with Avatar Cameron used the technology to much greater effect, as there he introduced us to a new world unlike anything we’ve seen before. While Alita: Battle Angel continually looks like something we’ve seen before.
Alita: Battle Angel at the same time is in no way telling a full story. If anything, it’s telling the prologue of the story to come, which is heavily infuriating. It kills the stakes of the entire film, as in the finale of the film you put together yourself that they aren’t going to resolve anything of what’s happening, instead holding it off for the “promised” sequels to come. Deep down there’s a good story to tell here, and if the filmmakers involved focused on making a good movie first, instead of focusing on building a franchise first, we might have gotten something worth while. Instead Alita: Battle Angel is a film that’s a spectacle of incredible visual effects work surrounded by a world of paper thin nothingness.