I’m going to go ahead and spoil Alita: Battle Angel for you. Not since I’m a cock, however since revealing the ending informs you nothing about the plot and will ruin definitely nothing about the movie. It ends– drum roll, please– with Alita (Rosa Salazar), sword in hand, gazing down her opponent, her Huge Bad. Then it cuts to black and the credits play. The whole motion picture is a setup for a punch line that never comes.
None of this is to state that the setup is bad. In reality, it’s a lot better than anybody, myself consisted of, pictured it would be. Based on Yukito Kishiro’s Gunnm manga series and directed by Robert Rodriguez, it’s a zippy, if corny, hero story about a young cyborg (Alita) who is assembled from the head and shoulders of a long-lost robotic and the mechanized hands and feet of the dead child of talented cybersurgeon Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz). As the amnesiac android tries to piece together her life and limbs, she finds amazing abilities, establishes a love for the roller derby-cum-basketball sport understood as Motorball, takes on fugitive hunter, and realizes she needs to beat the abovementioned Big Bad. (She also falls in love, because some tropes never die.) This is the entire motion picture. It’s a lot of enjoyable, however it’s trying so difficult to develop into a franchise it forgets to have an ending.
When Alita initially wakes up, newly hacked together by Ido, she has no memory of her past. She walks agog through the world Ido has brought her into, those huge eyeballs you have actually heard so much about drinking in everything. Yet when she satisfies Hugo (Keean Johnson), who introduces her to Motorball, the newborn cyborg discovers she has exceptional abilities. Turns out, her heart and brain are Martian technology. Three hundred years before Ido made Alita there was the Fall, a fantastic war with Mars that left cyborgs like Alita disposed of which left the terrific city of Zalem floating high above Iron City, where Alita, Ido, Hugo, and almost everybody else lives.
There is one way to get to Zalem– by winning Motorball. Champions get to rise. This ends up being Alita’s objective. It’s likewise Hugo’s goal, however his plan is to get to Zalem with the help of Vector (Mahershala Ali), a mob employer of sorts who runs Motorball and pays Hugo and his friends to steal robotic appendages to offer to gamers. Oh, also, Vector’s girlfriend/partner in criminal offense is Chiren (Jennifer Connelly), who happens to be Ido’s ex-wife and the mom of the woman whose body Alita now utilizes. And they’ve been advised by Nova, that Big Bad, to kill Alita.
If all of this sounds excessively made complex, it is. Whereas the majority of movies of its ilk are short on details and simply stick to playing the hits, Alita is swarming with intrigue and plot. The issue is, it does not truly go anywhere. The action-filled, eye-popping set pieces are exceptionally enjoyable (thank the combining of Rodriguez and producer James Cameron for that), but they’re a bridge to no place. Alita, it becomes painfully obvious in the third act, is a whole film of exposition.
When trilogies are prepared to be trilogies from the beginning, this is acceptable. Folks leaving the theater know there will be more to come back to in the next movie. Even something like a Marvel franchise film can be forgiven for having a slightly open-ended conclusion, due to the fact that everybody understands the answers will be offered eventually. With Alita, there’s no guarantee of a follow up. In fact, Cameron has actually stated he’s cautious of scheduling one before this film has shown itself. That’s a good concept, however it would be more believable if it wasn’t originating from someone whose motion picture forgot to consist of the last boss battle. And actually, Cameron knows how to do this: Avatar ended with a bang and still left audiences wanting more.
Cameron and Rodriguez do, naturally, have a strategy for what would happen in a follow up– if they didn’t, guy that would be an extra downer– and it’s clear from Battle Angel they know where the story is going. So why, then, did they make a film so clearly pleading for a follow-up when they had the items to provide a killer ending? Dunno. (Ill-informed guess: Cameron, whose now dealing with four Avatar sequels10 years after the original hit theaters, didn’t want to be caught flat-footed, regardless of what he states about not wishing to greenlight a second movie prematurely.) Regardless, it’s a pity, specifically thinking about the film is on track to flop— and might never get that follow up anyhow.
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