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Alita: Battle Angel
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by Peter Sobczynski

"a.k.a. Do Androids Dream Of Boy Band Rejects?"
1 stars

At first glance, the notion of a sci-fi epic combining the talents of Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime meeting of the minds—the contemporary genre equivalent of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas coming together for “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The trouble with “Alita: Battle Angel,” the long-gestating live-action film adaptation of the popular 90s manga, is that it only takes a few minutes to realize that both of them have put their worst creative foot forward on this one—instead of a film combining Rodriguez’s cheeky wit and cheerful exuberance and Cameron’s unquestioned mastery of staging and executing incredibly complex action beats, they have offered up one that inexplicably and disastrously puts its focus on Rodriguez’s stately epic vision and Cameron’s flair for screenwriting with downright disastrous results.

Set in a dystopian 26th -century world divided into the haves, who reside in the paradisiacal sky city of Zalem, and the have-nots, who are forced into hardscrabble existences in Iron City, a burned-out wasteland where they struggle to survive while dreaming of one day making it to a better life in Zalem. While foraging for spare parts in a junk pile one day, noble cybersurgeon Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) stumbles upon the still-functioning head and upper torso of a super-advanced cyborg and brings it home, attaches it to a robot torso he created for his late daughter and then names it Alita (Rosa Salazar), after that same dead daughter. Although Alita initially has no memory of her previous existence, she immediately demonstrates both astonishing fighting skills and a pure heart, the latter of which gets her into trouble when she finds herself developing feelings for Hugo (Keean Johnson), a street kid who dreams of one day making it to Zalem. This causes her to run afoul of Vector (Mahershala Ali), the man who rules—or at least thinks he rules—both Iron City’s criminal underground and, more importantly, Motorball, a bizarre and super violent (though without threatening the all-important PG-13 rating) cross of Rollerball, rugby and Rock-Em Sock-Em Robots that is evidently the only source of entertainment around. With the aid of the nefarious Cherin (Jennifer Connelly), who happens to be Ido’s ex-wife, an army of brutal bounty-hunting cyborgs (including one played by a virtually unrecognizable Jackie Earle Haley) and the unwitting Hugo, Ido tries to destroy Alita once and for all while she manages to defeat all comers while slowly unlocking the secrets of her past, especially in regards to her strange connection with Zalem.

I must confess that I am not especially familiar with the original source material but if the resulting film is any indication, I don’t think that I have been missing much. The storyline cooked up by Cameron and Late Kalogridis is an alternately unholy and uninspired mishmash of pretty much every film or TV show that has ever touched on the notion of a robot discovering human feelings and emotions with the possible exception of “Holmes and Yoyo” that alternates bizarre scenes of cyborg wreaking extended havoc on each other and even more bizarre scenes involving the relationships that Alita develops with Ido, which veer between the silly and the sneezy, and Hugo, who is such a lifeless lunk that he comes across as more robotic than Alita in their scenes together. Used to shooting his own run-and-guns pseudo-epics on his own terms, Rodriguez demonstrate absolutely no flair for the kind of gargantuan production that he has been saddled with here. Every scene is busy and filled with action but precious little of it is worth any notice and the few action beats that do sort-of work, such as a Motorball tryout that turns into a free-for-all, are just good enough to make you wonder what might have resulted if someone with a true gift for conducting such cinematic carnage, such as Luc Besson or Cameron himself, had been at the helm. As for the performances, relative newcomer Salazar pours on the charm but it is smothered by the tons of CGI augmentation utilized to bring her character to something vaguely resembling life. Meanwhile, the film has assembled no less than three Oscar-winning actors in Waltz, Ali and Connelly but none of them can do anything to make their roles even slightly believable or plausible while Johnson is so astoundingly awful that if this wanna-be franchise actually took off (don’t count on it), he would go down as its Jar-Jar Binks.

Wasting both a game group of talents on both sides of the camera and untold millions of dollars, “Alita: Battle Angel” is the first unquestioned cinematic disaster of the year, a botch so total that all you can do is sit there in your 3-D glasses and try to wonder if there was some point in the production process where the whole thing went sideways or if it was headed for disaster right from the start. (That said, if you like fake movie sports, you might get a kick out of it because the story really leans into the whole Motorball aspect of the narrative.) Hell, I’m the kind of person who has been known to enjoy wildly expensive follies in the past when they have demonstrated some kind of cheerfully oddball spark that managed to survive amidst all the surrounding nonsense. Sadly, there is none of that on display here and as it plods along to the open-ended finale that promises/threatens future installments, it becomes painfully obvious that rather than create a unique epic worthy of their still-considerable talents, Rodriguez and Cameron have essentially given us this generation’s “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=30617&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/14/19 17:09:50
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User Comments

4/07/20 Honor Whitelow Awesome. The best film I have. Seen in a while 5 stars
4/07/20 bored mom Formulaic and poorly ended. Despite the creepy eyes, Salazar's charisma is the best here. 3 stars
7/03/19 To B. Fair The manga was groundbreaking when it came out in 1990. This was a poorly written adaptation 2 stars
5/11/19 James Queerbugger Avengers Endgame is astonishing but this is even better ! ! !. 5 stars
5/05/19 I Hate FF The great director produced the best comic adaptation masterpiece. 5 stars
4/01/19 Jimmie T. Murakami Shes just a head, you`d have to make do with sodomizing her ! ! !. 5 stars
3/31/19 Damn Straight Wow hope there will be more from this manga 5 stars
3/08/19 willy helmit I want to bugger Alita, that bird is a right little darlin`. 5 stars
3/07/19 Russ A beautiful, pure soul who happens to be a stone killer. What's not to like? 5 stars
3/07/19 John Queerbugger Better than everything the British film industry has ever produced put together. 5 stars
3/07/19 Sucks hard like Avatar A movie indistinguishable from a video game. Great to appreciators of style over substance 1 stars
3/06/19 Crits4Chris Hyperkinetic 3D and a central performance shine above fanservice. 4 stars
3/02/19 Eggbert Sandwich The greatest film in the history of the universe. 5 stars
2/26/19 louise Unmittigated genius from first frame to last. 5 stars
2/25/19 Bob Dog Masterpiece. Finest CGI character by a factor of 10. Love Alita! 5 stars
2/24/19 Alan Brought back my faith in modern movies. A must see (twice). 5 stars
2/24/19 Charles Tatum Quite simply the most unbelievable visual experience of my entire life. 5 stars
2/18/19 teddy crescendo One of the most astoundingly entertaining movies i`ve ever seen, quite astonishing. 5 stars
2/17/19 Archie "unquestioned disaster" rocking 93% positive on RT lol 5 stars
2/17/19 Robert Page It’s not trying to be Ex Machina, it is fun, dazzling in 3D, good time at the movies. 5 stars
2/16/19 David Green Absolute disaster of a movie 1 stars
2/13/19 Wes Craven A stunning masterpiece of special effects magnificence. 5 stars
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  14-Feb-2019 (PG-13)
  DVD: 23-Jul-2019


  DVD: 23-Jul-2019

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