‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Review: A Must-See Visually Stunning Spectacle

Alita Battle Angel Review

Alita: Battle Angel, directed by Robert Rodriguez from a script written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis based on the manga by Yukito Kishiro, made its way through development hell and is finally hitting the big screen after almost two decades in development. But was it worth it?

The film set in the 26th century tells the story of Alita (Rosa Salazar), an amnesiac cyborg girl rescued from a junkyard by Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) who rebuilds her. After she’s restored to functionality, Alita explores her mysterious past, and battles her way through a post-apocalyptic wasteland using her mysteriously advanced combat skills to hunt down criminals as she tries to recover her memories.

The cyberpunk world of Alita is a familiar one that originally served to inspire James Cameron’s Dark Angel series. In many ways, the new film now echoes the Cameron series but with shades of the original Blade Runner blended in. Visually, Alita has an interesting world but it’s not one that is properly established within the context of the film itself. The world clearly has a long history with cities built upon cities long after the great fall of humanity. But we’re only given small pieces of exposition to flesh out the backstory delivered through Alita’s flashbacks dispersed throughout the film.

After the charm of Alita’s early fish out of water-like discovery of Iron City begins to wear off, the holes in this film’s set-up begin to shine through. Unfortunately for general audiences not familiar with the manga, there isn’t a reason in the script to invest in the motivations of the characters, all of whom want to realize their dream of upgrading from their lives in the scrapyard to the live amongst the elite in Zalem, the supposed utopian society floating above Iron City which is only glimpsed at from afar.

While the narrative itself might be sloppy, the motion-capture performance from Rosa Salazar, as well as the animation of her character and the breathtaking action sequences she takes part in are worth the cost of admission alone. Salazar gives it her all, delivering a heartfelt and endearing performance as a naïve and innocent teenage cyborg who later discovers herself to be a great warrior through this coming of age story. Only to be weighed down by a cheesy romance and a slew of forgettable characters from the supporting cast.

The film boasts a large cast, including some of Hollywood’s top talents such as Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali, and Jennifer Connelly only to under-utilize them in supporting roles, all of which are extremely dull and do nothing more than serve as familiar archetypes. While Waltz and Salazar do have a good chemistry in their scenes together, it’s not enough to save the movie from a thin plot bolstered by a wealth of lackluster cyborg bounty hunters who overcrowd the film, each one barely distinct from the other save for one entertaining Hunter Warrior who lets his cyborg dogs do his dirty work for him instead of doing it himself.

Rising stars Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and Lana Condor also pop up as teens trying to survive on their own in Alita’s dystopian world. Unfortunately, Alita won’t be doing the two any favors as Condor’s few scenes don’t give her enough chance to shine while Lendeborg Jr. is devoid of any of the charisma or likeability that made him such a standout in Bumblebee.

The biggest problem with Alita, however, isn’t its characters, nor its plot, or its poorly established world, but rather the dialogue of the script itself. While Salazar has some great deliveries, much of the dialogue is outright atrocious, with lines that not even Mahershala Ali could make sound good. For the most part, the script’s humor fell flat and many of the major turning points and emotional beats meant to move the audience were rather laughable.

Although Alita may not have the best-written script or many interesting characters, it is a film worth seeing on the big screen. The natively shot 3D film features several incredibly exciting and well-choreographed fight scenes, as well as its breathtaking Motorball sequences, one of which was — while maybe not as significant or as impactful — akin to seeing the pod-race from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in theaters back in 1999. During a time when superhero films full of CGI are plentiful, it’s refreshing to see visual effects that manage to impress on this kind of level. The hard work and nearly two years spent developing the film’s extensive visual effects certainly paid off, delivering some of the best effects seen in years.

Alita: Battle Angel isn’t a great movie, but it has just enough spectacle coupled with heart, and a cool factor thanks to Alita herself and the fight choreography of Robert Rodriguez’s stylized action sequences to make for a damn good time at the movies. Although this isn’t an adaption that can stand on its own as the film itself leaves many questions unanswered: What was the fall? Why was Alita a soldier in the past? What was she fighting for? And why was she humanity’s enemy? There’s enough here thanks to Salazar’s performance that would make Alita worth coming back for a sequel.

Rating: 6/10

Top Actors To Replace Ben Affleck In Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’

Ben Affleck is officially out as Batman and it’s a pretty sad day.

Words cannot describe how sad I am to see Ben Affleck announce that he’s no longer Batman. His Batman is why I do what I do. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I fell in love with his comic book-accurate interpretation of the Caped Crusader. It was a breath of fresh air and it felt like we finally had the one true Batman.

Three years have quickly sped by and we’re officially going to receive a new Batman for his next movie. Last night, Ben Affleck announced that he will not return as the Dark Knight in Matt Reeves’ The Batman and now everyone’s attention has moved towards wanting to know who the next Bruce Wayne will be. Matt Reeves is said to want an actor that’s around 20 years younger than Affleck while Warner Bros. wants someone older. My guess is that Reeves wants a fresh start while the studio wants an older actor for crossover potential.

In this list, I will discuss the actors I think can replace Ben Affleck as Batman using the parameters that Matt Reeves and Warner Bros. want. Hit Next to see our picks to play the Batman.

Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender is an X-Men alum and no stranger to comic book franchises. The actor has shown multiple levels of range and could definitely handle the Batman/Bruce Wayne personality. If they go with the older range for the next Dark Knight, then Fassbender is probably one of the best choices to take over the role.

Ben Barnes

Ben Barnes is out of a job after The Punisher season 2 and he’s one of the best actors in that series. The second season tied up Barnes’ arc on The Punisher and the actor has already told us that that he’d love to play the Caped Crusader. Barnes definitely has the pretty boy look going on for him and I wonder what his take on Bruce Wayne could be.

Ryan Gosling

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Ryan Gosling needs to star in a superhero movie. I’ve always thought Gosling would make a great Batman. Every role that he’s done has shown us his capability and he could crush it as Bruce Wayne.

Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm is my top choice for an older Batman. If Warner Bros. wants to cast an older actor for crossover potential, Jon Hamm is the studio’s best bet. He has a similar look to Ben Affleck, and c’mon, the guy’s look just screams Bruce Wayne.

Armie Hammer

Armie Hammer is 32 years old and was cast as the Caped Crusader in George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal. That film will never see the light of day, but that doesn’t mean that Hammer doesn’t deserve a second shot at being the Batman. He’s charming, broody and will probably give his all for this role. Armie Hammer is a great option because he’s young enough for Matt Reeves and Warner Bros. could work in a way for him to crossover with the rest of the DC Extended Universe.

Richard Madden

Game of Thrones alum Richard Madden is my top choice to replace Ben Affleck as Batman. The actor is young, has the look and definitely has the acting chops to play the duality of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Madden just won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television series for the BBC drama Bodyguard, so Warner Bros. may want to quickly snatch him up.

Michael Mistroff

Michael Mistroff

News Editor, Film/TV Reporter at Heroic Hollywood.