Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel is the most visually stunning release so far in 2019. Being able to see it in a Dolby theater was one of the more unique experiences I’ve had being a movie reviewer. For some, this endorsement would be more than enough reason to buy a ticket this weekend. However, there’s more to a release than whether it passes the eye test. Laeta Kalogridis, James Cameron, and Rodriguez’s narrative is a confusing poorly written mess which distracts from Rodriguez’s visual achievement. I found myself having trouble wrapping my head around the writer’s bloated narrative and losing interest rapidly even during some of the more elaborate visual sequences. Why did this film need a writing team? Why couldn’t it had just been Rodriguez crafting the narrative?
It’s sad really that something this special visually will be forever remembered for its terrible storyline. Rosa Salazar (the actress who plays Alita) was undoubtedly a great pick to play the title role, and with great supporting cast members, Alita: Battle Angel had the makings of a great release. The narrative gets wrapped up in attempting to tell an origin story while trying to explain the politics of this post-apocalyptic world. Audiences don’t need to know the full reason why in this type of film, just who we should be rooting for.
Christoph Waltz plays Dr. Dyson Ido who spends his every waking hour repairing cyborgs in need of repair. He’s supposed to be a parent in mourning due to his daughter being killed by a rogue patient of his. This doesn’t come across to the audience. Ido ends up being Alita’s Psuedo sidekick when she inevitably finds out that she was built for a “higher” purpose. Jennifer Connelly plays Chiren who I imagine is suppose to be a combination of a mourning mother/ bad person, but her performance was beyond lackluster, which I found shocking.
This type of film should have grabbed our interest and laid the groundwork for future releases not bored me from start to finish. Alita: Battle Angel has this need to tell this whole long drawn narrative which ultimately ends up being it’s undoing. Perhaps if the story had been less bloated and engaging, we would be having a different discussion altogether.