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Alita: Battle Angel is [Rodriguez’s] best film since he brought Frank Miller’s graphic novel to the screen, a sci-fi epic that does something rare in an age of endless adaptations and reboots: lives up to its potential while leaving you wanting more.
Alita: Battle Angel is Robert Rodriguez’s best film in many years. It’s an ambitious, impressive, visually spectacular production with great performances that make its strange world seem real.
Alita: Battle Angel is a film with Imax spectacle and big effects. But for all its scale, it might end up being put on for 13-year-olds as a sleepover entertainment. It doesn’t have the grownup, challenging, complicated ideas of Ghost in the Shell. A vanilla dystopian romance.
Alita barely considers any of the existential questions about humanity that are typically central to this kind of sci-fi film. It’s just a slick action film. That is one way, at least, it does feel like a Robert Rodriguez movie.
Best enjoyed for the fun, slick action and the astonishing, super-expressive realisation of Alita herself, because elsewhere it’s cyberpunk business as usual, marred by some sloppy plotting.
This manga-based cyberpunk origin story is a pretty zappy effects showcase, weighed down by a protracted, soul-challenged Frankenstory that short-circuits every time it gets moving.
The film is stuffed with so many plot strands and so many different genres (sports movie, YA rebellion movie, bounty-hunter movie) that it never gets moving.
As you’d expect from Rodriguez, it has a decent number of pow-wow fight scenes, and sure loves to watch machinery being ripped to shreds. But it's all uncomfortably close to the gruesome Flesh Fair from Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, revamped as an ain’t-it-cool demolition derby with a charm-and-conscience bypass.
Impressive VFX and bursts of action can’t mask the fact that this is a tonally confused start for a sci-fi franchise hopeful, made up of scrap parts you’ve seen put to better use elsewhere.
Time Out
This visually epic, but monotonous collaboration between James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez is less than the sum of its slick parts.

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