Alita: Battle Angel​'s cutting-edge effects can't save its bland story

CNET | 2/14/2019 | Richard Trenholm
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With two powerhouse directors involved, Alita: Battle Angel should be a heavenly sci-fi blockbuster. Instead, it's a bland meander, an unengaging story that all the high-tech digital effects in the world can't save.

Alita is an angelic cyborg who's tumbled from a heavenly floating city in Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron's adaptation of the '90s manga and anime. Little more than a head and a pair of oversized doe eyes, Alita is lucky enough to be found by a cybernetics expert who pops her neatly onto a new robotic body. She quickly attracts the attention of various villains in a teeming futuristic metropolis, but her luck holds out in a story that struggles to test or challenge our cybernetic star.

Rosa - Salazar - Cyborg - Alita

Rosa Salazar is doe-eyed cyborg Alita.

James Cameron wrote the script with Altered Carbon showrunner Laeta Kalogridis, then Rodriguez stepped in to direct so Cameron could focus on the four Avatar sequels currently in the pipeline. Alita feels like something of a placeholder for the long-delayed Avatar follow-ups, showcasing cutting-edge visual effects and 3D technology from Cameron's company Lightstorm. But on this evidence, we may not need more Avatar after all.

Alita - Battle - Angel - Cinemas - Fights

Alita: Battle Angel, in cinemas now, is certainly glossy to look at, filled with gravity-defying fights and punky cyborgs stretching the limits of the human body. Yet the world lacks the visual identity of dystopias like Blade Runner or The Fifth Element or even 2017's disappointing Ghost in the Shell. Even the similarly themed Elysium does a better job of conjuring a trash-heap of cybernetic haves and have-nots.

Watch this: Alita: Battle Angel's Christoph Waltz reveals why acting...

Alita - Rosa - Salazar - Ingenue - Taste

The digitally captured Alita, played by Rosa Salazar as a wide-eyed ingenue with an amusing taste for kicking people's limbs off, is a charming guide to this cybernetics-obsessed future. But her story doesn't hang together....
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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