Any film that the legendary movie-maker James Cameron is connected with is always worth covering – even if his tangential connection with recent inferior Terminator entries has thrown some shade. But put him together with another A-List director, Robert Rodriguez, and it would seem unlikely that the resulting action film would be anything less than ground-breaking.
It’s hard to tell whether Battle Angel: Alita, a film that has been on Cameron’s slate for years in one form or another – even while he’s been exploring oceans and readying more Avatars – will live up to the sum of its parts, but this first glimpse at least suggests those parts are firmly in place.
The story, based on the original Gunnm manga story Yukito Kishiro, is set in the 26th century, and tells of a ‘female’ cyborg, Alita who is found in a rubbish dump and repaired by Dr. Dyson Ido. Ido also has connections to the world of bounty-hunting and she proves a great addition to his activities. But he’s also aware that others may be looking for the discarded ‘body’ and sure enough Alita finds that blending in to her new life may be impossible when the old one is hot on her heels…
Rodriguez is a past-master at providing sometimes visceral kinetic character-based action, so that aspect is a strong tick in the right column. A few years ago, such a performance-capture based production would have been considered cutting-edge for that aspect alone, but we’re living in an age where Cameron has spent a lot of money on it and the likes of Andy Serkis have pushed those boundaries successfully, so the film will have to do more than dazzle us technically – the story itself will have to hold our attention.
Rising actress – if not quite a household name as yet – Rosa Salazar takes the lead role of Alita with CGI and digital enhancement giving her character a more traditional wide-eyed look – opinions are so far divided on the result with some liking the off-kilter face but others finding it distracting. However there’s also able support from Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson.
Battle Angel:Alita is released by Twentieth-Century Fox on 20th July, 2018