Alita: Battle Angel features some stunningly gorgeous visuals but stumbles when it comes to pacing and structure.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
An action-packed story of one young woman’s journey to discover the truth of who she is and her fight to change the world.
When the first trailers and pictures for Alita: Battle Angel were released, people were a little thrown off by the look of the main character. She had big eyes and was a character brought to life via CGI and people were not okay with it. She looked a little off and only looked a little better in the marketing material. A lot of people assumed that would be the dealbreaker for the movie. In the end, it wasn’t her look that killed the movie at all. If anything, you settle into the special effects. As the movie goes on, not only do you as an audience member get used to seeing Alita and the other CGI characters on screen, but star Rosa Salazar also seems to settle into the role and gets better as time goes on.
The visuals aren’t quite there, however. There are still moments when it is very obvious that we are looking at a CGI character. The technology isn’t quite there yet, but it’s never going to get there if people don’t keep trying. The world looks beautiful and, in general, the visuals of the movie are very nice. They aren’t the problem that everyone thought they were going to be.
It turns out the problem is one much more common to movies than any of us care to admit–pacing and structure issues. It’s a movie where the first act takes a long time to get going. It isn’t helped by the fact that we are still getting used to the CGI and several of the actors seem uncomfortable in their parts. A lot of time is spent on showing, not telling, when it comes to the worldbuilding which is unfortunate since the world could be very interesting. There is a lot going on and at two hours it still feels like there could have been some edits that tightened up the entire production.
The plot doesn’t have much of a three-act structure. People do things and things happen, but it feels more like they are marking off a specific checklist instead of telling a story. Despite the fact that this movie two hours long and still somehow feels overly long there are also a ton of plot points that aren’t addressed. They are setting up for a sequel, but unless there is a huge box office return, there is a good chance there won’t be a follow-up. That means we’re getting yet another movie setting up a trilogy instead of telling its own story and said trilogy isn’t going to happen.
Alita: Battle Angel isn’t offensively bad on any level, but it’s also not good enough to justify running out to see it opening weekend. This is yet another Robert Rodriguez movie where he got caught up with the process of making a movie and didn’t follow through until the end.
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