It’s safe to say that Alita: Battle Angel is one of the most anticipated movies coming to theaters in February. It’s also safe to say there are still many questions surrounding the film. There’s surprisingly little buzz for this $200 million movie. A lot of that is probably due to audiences not knowing what to think of the film.
Alita: Battle Angel looks like it could either turn into a massive disaster, or a surprise hit. There are certainly elements to the film to be excited about. But there’s also a few aspects that have us worried for the final product. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons to be hyped and worried for Alita: Battle Angel.
10 Hyped: Early Reaction
When a studio is willing to let the public see their film in advance, that’s usually a sign that they have confidence in the film. We recently saw this with Aquaman and that turned out to be a massive success. With recent screenings held for Alita: Battle Angel, it seems the studio isn’t too concerned about bad word-of-mouth.
The early reactions have been generally positive for the film. Many early viewers have praised the visual effects and the engaging story. These reactions often need to be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s certainly encouraging.
9 Worried: PG-13 Rating
When it comes to adapting existing material, studios should be aware that audiences don’t like to see their favorite properties watered-down. For that reason, the PG-13 rating for the live-action take on a very violent manga is worrisome.
Such a rating doesn’t necessarily mean the movie will be bad. We’ve seen some great PG-13-rated action films in the past. But given just how gory the original was, it’s hard not to think that something is lost in trying to play it safe. Hopefully, the film can maintain the disturbing aspect of the violence without being as graphic.
8 Hyped: New Technology At Work
With James Cameron heavily involved in this project, it’s no real surprise the film is pushing the envelope with its visuals. Cameron is no stranger to ground-breaking effects, as seen in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Avatar. Judging by the footage of this film, he has some new tricks up his sleeve.
It has been suggested that Cameron might be using the same 3D and CGI techniques that he is implementing for the new Avatar movies. If true, Alita: Battle Angel could be a film unlike anything we’ve seen before.
7 Worried: Character Design
From the first images, the Alita's eyes stood out to a lot of people and not necessarily in the best ways. The look received a mixed response at best and put a target on the film very early.
Eventually, director Robert Rodriguez spoke about the decision behind the design, saying it was meant to invoke the look in the manga with a "photo-realistic" look. As more images and footage was released, it continued to show some odd character design choices. It remains to be seen how well these designs hold up throughout the movie, but they seem like a pretty big distraction.
6 Hyped: Source Material
One reason this been highly anticipated for so long is because of the popularity of the source material. The film is based off the 1990 Japanese manga Gunnm, by Yukito Kishiro. The story follows a cyborg with no memory who begins to uncover her past.
It might seem somewhat unoriginal, but this is likely because it influenced a lot of modern stories of the same vein. Along with amazing visuals and exciting action, the manga told a story that readers cared about. Fans have been waiting to see this epic get the live-action treatment and are hoping it lives up to the beloved original.
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5 Worried: Recent Manga Adaptions
Hollywood seems to be determined to bring beloved manga to the big screen. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to know how to do it successfully. There have been several attempts at adapting some of the biggest titles, and most of them have been failures. With movies like Ghost in the Shell, Death Note, and Spike Lee’s Oldboy, the genre doesn’t have a great track record.
It could be that this material just doesn’t translate as well into a live-action film as the studios seem to think. These are complicated stories with strange visuals. It might be that the manga works best when left on the pages.
4 Hyped: The Cast
After a long search for the lead, Rosa Salazar was cast as the cyborg hero of the film. Salazar is relatively new but has already made a strong impression in films like the Maze Runner series and Bird Box.
As promising as Salazar is, it is the supporting cast that has us excited. The film boasts three Oscar-winners with Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connolly. Add to that, great character actors like Jackie Earle Haley, Jeff Fahey, and Michelle Rodriguez. Good casts don’t always mean a good movie, but such high-caliber actors must have seen something here worthwhile.
3 Worried: Long-Development
Despite being a beloved property, this film has had a long road to the big screen. Cameron originally planned to direct the film himself, back in the early 2000s. The film kept getting pushed several times in favor of other projects until finally handing it over to Rodriguez.
While the years of development could have been waiting for the technology to catch up, it does give some cause for concern. When projects take so long to get off the ground, it’s not unusual for them to disappoint.
2 Hyped: James Cameron
Despite no longer being in the director’s chair for this project, having James Cameron’s name attached is certainly something to be excited for. Seeing as he is heavily immersed in the world of Avatar for the foreseeable future, it’s easy to forget his filmography beyond those films.
Especially within the action genre, Cameron is a legend – as a director and a writer. Having written the Terminator films, Aliens, and True Lies shows the man can build a strong action story. He remains passionate about the project which strongly suggests there’s something special here.
1 Worried: Robert Rodriguez
Robert Rodriguez has a lot of great projects to his name. His El Mariachi trilogy remains a fun and bloody adventure after all these years. His first Sin City film was ground-breaking for the genre. Even some of his Spy Kids movies are great fun. However, those films do feel like a long time ago.
Lately, Rodriguez’s films have left a lot to be desired. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For was a big letdown and his Machete films felt like he was just fooling around. It makes us wonder how well he’ll fare with such a big project. Let’s hope this is the film to return him to his former glory.