Alita Battle Angel

Based on a popular Japanese manga series, ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ has been a long time coming. Trapped in Hollywood’s infamous ‘development hell’ – where announced projects become stuck in eternal creative and financial abyss - its long genesis has enhanced its mysterious reputation. Produced by James Cameron and Directed by gifted fantasy helmer Robert Rodriguez, ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ successfully mirrors its comic-book counterpart. The film looks like it cost a fortune and would need to make one with its elongated gestation adding to its gargantuan budget.

Alita (Rosa Salazar) is a cyborg who awakens after a severe technological mishaps destroys earth. Wondering what has happened, she finds answers from her friend Dr Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz). Discovering a post-apocalyptic world shaken with fear, Alita also must contend with other cyborgs who want to cause more damage to a broken world. Among them is Zapan (Ed Skrein) who has Alita in his sights as the battle between machines escalates towards the point of no return.

One of the problems with current big epic films like ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is it crams too much information in a restricted run-time. This is where modern TV trumps movies like these at it has the ability to effectively to tell such a sprawling story. It’s not that ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is bad, it’s that crucial plot points seem missing with characterisation sacrificed for spectacle. The latter is where it excels with each bruising battle sequence and chase keenly felt. This is Rodriguez coming into his own as his usual directorial flourishes are seen in full flight. Whilst not the best of his long career, he still infuses genuine energy and danger to proceedings.

The biggest drawcard is the special effects that look suitably amazing. Both Cameron and Rodriguez know how to create new worlds that feel real. Their ability to develop new societies within each world shows their fondness for the sci-fi genre. It is unfortunate the story overall is somewhat muddled with hidden agendas and double-crosses dissolving into a small mess. The characters aren’t particularly memorable either despite the spirited performances. The typical ‘setting up events for sequels’ plot-strand is annoying but in terms of providing a visually arresting experience ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is worth seeing on a big screen.

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ has problems but is entertaining if one doesn’t think too much about the story. It’s a shame it isn’t up to par with the CGI which obviously had the most dollars poured into it. The ‘Playstation generation’ should dig this movie even if the screenplay becomes lost amongst computer generated wizardry.

Rating out of 10: 6

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