Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel

2019, PG-13, 122 min. Directed by Robert Rodriguez. Starring Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Keean Johnson.

REVIEWED By Matthew Monagle, Fri., Feb. 15, 2019

For as long as anyone with an internet connection can remember, James Cameron has tried, failed, and tried again to adapt Yukito Kishiro’s manga series to the big screen. Now, nearly two decades after the project first slipped into the Hollywood rumor mill, Cameron’s film is finally seeing the light of day with action powerhouse Robert Rodriguez at the helm.

Centuries after a devastating war wiped out much of human civilization, survivors have gathered in the ruins below Zalem, the sole remaining floating city. One such survivor, Ido (Waltz), makes his living patching up the cyborg residents of the city and searching for high-tech scrap in the wasteland, which is where he discovers the core of Alita (Salazar), an advanced cybernetic warrior who cannot remember her past. As Alita reacquaints herself with the world, she discovers that the leaders of Zalem are quietly pulling the strings on the surface world; this inspires her to fight for the independence of her adopted family and defend the life of the man she loves (Johnson).

Because this is a collaboration between Cameron and Rodriguez, the film’s primary focus –  and this is said with no small degree of affection – is just to move the action along. Shortly after realizing that her father figure is moonlighting as a cyborg bounty hunter, Alita enlists alongside him so she can brawl with the other hunters at their local bar. From there, Alita also signs up for the city’s lucrative Murder Ball league (a violent and mechanically enhanced evolution of Roller Derby) to pay off some of her boyfriend’s debt. The best moments of Alita are a synergy of its two creative forces, blending impressive digital environments with a science-fiction universe that speaks to hidden depths (often quite literally). No action film this earnest will be without its die-hard fans.

But since the film has doubled down on style over substance, it’s a puzzle that Cameron and company didn’t give their actors more opportunities to help bridge the gap. Put another way: How much you enjoy Alita: Battle Angel will depend on your stomach for motion capture. Salazar is definitely the right actress to build a franchise around; her performance in the Maze Runner movies proved her a more-than-capable action heroine, and she brings that same mixture of strength and vulnerability to this role. Yet because Alita has so many different character models on display, the ones that work draw considerable attention from the ones that do not, and the anime stylings are a constant drain on the film.

We never see Salazar’s performance, only the SFX team’s re-creation of her performance, and that generates a disconnect between the audience and the lead character that the film can never overcome. The trouble with computer-augmented characters like Alita is that they work best in the loud scenes, not the soft ones, and Salazar the actress  –  not Salazar the collection of reference points – was desperately needed to sell the film’s middling stabs at female empowerment. Alita: Battle Angel wants to frame its futuristic Pinocchio narrative around a story of teenage romance, but the end result is a bunch of pixels falling in love with the first boy they meet. Next time, stick to the parts where you punch.

Showtimes

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Thu., March 21

CC/DVS 4:50

Fri., March 22

CC/DVS 3:50

Sat., March 23

CC/DVS 1:10

Sun., March 24

CC/DVS 3:50

Mon., March 25

CC/DVS 4:40

Tue., March 26

CC/DVS 4:40

Wed., March 27

CC/DVS 4:40

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Thu., March 21

3-D 12:45, 6:35
digital 10:00am, 3:40

Fri., March 22

3-D 4:15
digital 10:00am, 1:10, 7:20, 10:25

Sat., March 23

3-D 4:15
digital 10:00am, 1:10, 7:20, 10:25

Sun., March 24

3-D 4:15
digital 10:00am, 1:10, 7:20, 10:25

Mon., March 25

3-D 4:15
digital 1:10, 7:20, 10:25

Tue., March 26

3-D 4:15
digital 1:10, 7:20, 10:25

Wed., March 27

3-D 4:15
digital 1:10, 7:20, 10:25

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Thu., March 21

digital 10:30am, 1:30, 4:30

Fri., March 22

digital 10:30am, 7:50

Sat., March 23

digital 10:30am, 7:50

Sun., March 24

digital 10:30am, 4:30, 7:50

Mon., March 25

digital 4:30, 10:20

Tue., March 26

digital 7:50

Wed., March 27

digital 4:30, 10:20

Thu., March 21

digital 11:35am, 5:30

Fri., March 22

digital 3:00, 9:50

Sat., March 23

digital 4:10, 10:35

Sun., March 24

digital 10:00am, 10:35

Mon., March 25

digital 3:00, 9:50

Tue., March 26

digital 3:00, 9:50

Wed., March 27

digital 10:00

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Thu., March 21

digital 9:55am, 1:00

Fri., March 22

digital 10:00am, 1:10, 4:25, 7:35, 10:35

Sat., March 23

digital 10:00am, 1:10, 4:25, 7:35, 10:35

Sun., March 24

digital 10:00am, 1:10, 4:25, 7:35, 10:35

Mon., March 25

digital 1:10, 4:25, 7:35, 10:35

Tue., March 26

digital 1:10, 4:25, 7:35, 10:35

Wed., March 27

digital 1:10, 4:25, 7:35, 10:35

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Thu., March 21

digital 10:10am, 1:10, 4:10

Fri., March 22

digital 10:10am, 1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 10:10

Sat., March 23

digital 10:10am, 1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 10:10

Sun., March 24

digital 10:10am, 1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 10:10

Mon., March 25

digital 10:10am, 1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 10:10

Tue., March 26

digital 10:10am, 1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 10:10

Wed., March 27

digital 10:10am, 1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 10:10

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Thu., March 21

digital 9:15am, 3:00

Fri., March 22

digital 11:00am

Sat., March 23

digital 11:00am

Sun., March 24

digital 11:00am

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Thu., March 21

12:00, 3:10, 9:05

Fri., March 22

9:00

Sat., March 23

9:05

Mon., March 25

8:30

Tue., March 26

8:30

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Thu., March 21

CC 1:15, 4:30

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Thu., March 21

CC/DVS 12:25, 3:30, 6:40, 10:00

Fri., March 22

CC/DVS 12:25, 3:40, 6:40, 10:05

Sat., March 23

CC/DVS 12:25, 3:40, 10:05

Sun., March 24

CC/DVS 12:25, 3:40, 6:40, 10:05

Mon., March 25

CC/DVS 12:25, 3:40, 6:40, 10:05

Tue., March 26

CC/DVS 12:25, 3:40, 6:40, 10:05

Wed., March 27

CC/DVS 12:25, 3:40, 6:40, 10:05

Hometown Cinemas

120 MLK Jr. Industrial Blvd. W, Lockhart, 512/398-4100, www.hometowncinemas.com

Thu., March 21

11:15am, 4:25, 9:55

Fri., March 22

11:45am, 4:40, 9:50

Sat., March 23

11:45am, 4:40, 9:50

Sun., March 24

11:45am, 4:40

Mon., March 25

11:45am, 4:40

Tue., March 26

11:45am, 4:40

Wed., March 27

11:45am, 4:40

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Thu., March 21

CC/DVS 1:30, 4:30, 7:20, 10:20

Fri., March 22

CC/DVS 4:10, 7:05, 10:30

Sat., March 23

CC/DVS 4:10, 7:05, 10:30

Sun., March 24

CC/DVS 4:10, 7:05, 10:30

Mon., March 25

CC/DVS 1:15, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15, 10:30

Tue., March 26

CC/DVS 1:15, 4:15, 10:15, 10:30

Wed., March 27

CC/DVS 1:15, 4:15, 7:15, 10:15, 10:30

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 N. FM 620, Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Thu., March 21

6:00, 9:15

Fri., March 22

10:45am

Sat., March 23

10:45am

Sun., March 24

10:45am

Mon., March 25

12:00

Tue., March 26

12:00

Wed., March 27

12:00

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Thu., March 21

3:35, 7:35

Fri., March 22

2:00, 4:45

Sat., March 23

2:00, 4:45

Sun., March 24

2:00, 4:45

Mon., March 25

1:05, 3:50

Tue., March 26

1:05, 3:50

Wed., March 27

1:05, 3:50

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Thu., March 21

CC/DVS 11:15am, 2:00, 4:45

Fri., March 22

CC/DVS 1:25

Sat., March 23

CC/DVS 1:25

Sun., March 24

CC/DVS 1:55

Mon., March 25

CC/DVS 1:50, 9:50

Tue., March 26

CC/DVS 1:50, 9:55

Wed., March 27

CC/DVS 1:50, 9:50

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Alita: Battle Angel, Robert Rodriguez, Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Keean Johnson

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