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Film Review: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’

Опубликовано: 20 дней назад
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Film Review: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’:
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 It is a view broadly held in Hollywood that writing is not the greatest of James Cameron’s manifold filmmaking gifts: The visual storytelling of his blockbusters is what sticks, not the plywood poetry he sticks in the mouths of his often perfunctory characters. A new Cameron production that boasts his imagination behind the keyboard rather than the camera, “Alita: Battle Angel” does little to change that perception. Directed instead with budget-splashing brio but little genuine inspiration by Robert Rodriguez, 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.  Landing somewhere at the intersection of “Pinocchio,” “Ghost in the Shell” and, uh, “Rollerball” — yet more generic than this disparate cocktail of reference points might lead you to expect — “Alita” might prove a shiny enough commercial distraction in the bleak midwinter box office to greenlight the copious sequels promised by its frustratingly splintered narrative. If it does, there are some promising elements here to build on, beginning with the title character herself: Played with perky enthusiasm by Rosa Salazar, a long-serving side player easing into kickass lead territory, Alita is a refreshingly buoyant presence in a genre dominated by dourer heroines. It’s a shame, then, that Salazar’s personable performance is smothered somewhat by an eerie digital makeover: Her smoothed features and dewy, super-sized peepers may be a direct nod to manga character design, but make her look more like an android imagining by Margaret “Big Eyes” Keane.   More Reviews Santa Barbara Film Review: 'Sharkwater Extinction'  That unsettling realization is hardly allayed by the never-quite-benevolent presence of Christoph Waltz as Alita’s steampunk-style Geppetto: Dyson Ido, a doctor who specializes in building and repairing cyborgs from scraps found on the wastelands of Iron City, a culture-mashed dystopia forged from the ruins left by a vast world war 300 years previously. (The year, we are told, is 2563, so cheer up: The apocalypse is further away than you think.) Alita is his latest creation, a girlishly slight but steely fusion of flesh and wires, who awakens with a blank-slate brain that gradually admits glitchy memories of battles centuries before. That explains her unexpectedly fierce, instinctive and impervious combat skills, initially put to benign use playing street “motorball” — Iron City’s favorite pastime, a pumped-up rollerblading basketball hybrid that, at its most stadium-filling professional level, takes on the crowdpleasing aura of ancient gladiatorial combat.  For reasons that Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis’s addled, humorless script has a hard time explaining, Alita’s heroic destiny lies in this knucklehead sporting league, though not before a host of other digressions — revolving mainly around a convoluted but strangely low-stakes realm of urban bount
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