The first reviews are in for ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ – and it’s not looking good

"A lumpy script, muddled plot, stock characters and tired genre tropes"

The first set of reviews for Alita: Battle Angel are emerging with critics being largely negative about James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s latest project.

The film, which is described by Twentieth Century Fox as “an action-packed story of one woman’s journey to discover the truth of who she is and her fight to change the world”, has so far been criticised for its laborious script and reliance on some “tired” genre tropes.

Variety said the “Directed…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.”

It was a sentiment echoed in The Hollywood Reporter who said: “A lumpy script, muddled plot, stock characters and tired genre tropes may dampen its commercial breakout potential beyond its core sci-fi action-fantasy demographic. While not exactly a misfire, Rodriguez and Cameron’s joint effort lacks the zing and originality of their best individual work.”

Some positive praise for the film came via IndieWire who said the film lives up to its potential while leaving you wanting more” and Little White Lies who described it as “a paragon of simple, classical Hollywood storytelling which takes subtle, occasionally counter-intuitive risks [at] the expense of bringing matters to a more satisfying dramatic head.

“There are moments peppered through the film where you can imagine stuffed-shirt investors or nervous producers breaking out the red pen or chiming in with alternative, safer, more demographic-friendly options, but Rodriguez has stuck to his guns.”

The praise was short-lived, however, with The Guardian saying “for all its scale, it might end up being put on for 13-year-olds as a sleepover entertainment. It doesn’t have the grownup, challenging, complicated ideas of Ghost In The Shell. A vanilla dystopian romance.”

Time Out, meanwhile said: “Only its often bravura visuals and some sparky cyberpunk races keep it engaging, until its umpteen story threads and endless mythology-meets-tech-porn jargon finally pound the interest out of you.”

Earlier this week, Dua Lipa released a new song and video called ‘Swan Song’ which was taken from the  film’s sound track.

Lipa co-wrote the song with Justin Tranter, Kennedi Lykken, Mattias Larsson, Robin Fredriksson and Tom Holkenborg. It’s her first new track since the release of the expanded edition of her debut album last year. 

The video, directed by Floria Sigismondi, sees Lipa in the film’s fictional Iron City. Speaking about the video, Sigismondi said: “While in the film Alita is quite literally on a journey to discover who she is, her history serves as a really powerful allegory for any girl who doesn’t yet know her own power.

“I wanted to play with that same profound notion by dropping Dua into a facet of Akita’s world and allowing Alita to serve as a surrogate that lends her on a journey to discover she’s stronger than she could have imagined.”