James Cameron has created some of my favorite movies of all time, "Terminator 2" and "Aliens" among them. If there's one consistent knock against Cameron in some of his films, it's that he's a much better filmmaker than he is a writer.
ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL is the best film evidence of that allegation.
It's beautiful, at times jaw-dropping to look at.
The action sequences are well constructed, fun to watch and thrilling, but the story itself feels old, creaky and beyond predictable. Based on a 9 part manga series, Cameron seems to have left some magic behind during the adaption.
Dr. Dyson Ido (a completely wasted Christoph Waltz) finds parts of a humanoid robot in the trash heaps below the floating wealthy world above a decimated Earth.
That's right, its post "the big war" and the wealthy live in floating cities, treating Earth like a dump. Hmmm...that sounds awful familiar. Did anyone see "Elysium"?
Anyway, Ido rebuilds the robot into the beautiful Alita.
Everything you think will happen does, predictably but with incredible visual flair.
Director Robert Rodriquez has always done digital wonder with small budgets. With $170 million at his disposal here, he creates incredible digital settings and action that are consistently dazzling.
Too bad they are populated with such cardboard characters.
Poor Mahershala Ali (Green Book, True Detective) looks completely out of place playing stock bad guy, Vector.
Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) does her best in an underwritten role and Jackie Earle Haley brings high energy to the CGI bad guy Grewishka.
It's okay for a film to leave you wanting more, but not for its entire running time.
Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner) is okay as Alita, our photo realistic but hollow hero.
Maybe that's the best summary of the whole film.
Beautiful but hollow, ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL gets a C.