Among the new movies that appeared in theaters last weekend were an action-adventure by director Robert Rodriguez (“Sin City,” “Spy Kids,” “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn”) and a subversive romantic comedy by director Todd Strauss-Schulson (“A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas”).
With a script co-written by James Cameron (“Titanic,” “Avatar”), “Alita: Battle Angel” takes place in a dystopian world where robots battle one another in public gladiatorial death matches. Alita (Rosa Salazar) is a 300-year-old robot with a huge heart and a knack for battling bad guys. Resurrected from a junk heap by kindly scientist (Christoph Waltz), she’s given a daughterly body, develops a crush with a human boy named Toby (Keean Johnson), and quickly decides she needs a more battle-ready body, in order to fight other robots in and out of the death-match ring.
“Isn’t it Romantic?” stars comic actor Rebel Wilson (best known for the “Pitch Perfect” films), along with Liam Hemsworth (“The Hunger Games”).
Here’s what a pair of reviewers from our pool of millennial film critics have to say about these movies.
‘ISN”T IT ROMANTIC?’(PG-13)
“Isn’t it Romantic?” is a delightfully self-aware romantic-comedy about how flawed and unrealistic romantic comedies are. LOL.
It follows Natalie (played by the brilliant Rebel Wilson), an empathetic cynic who has grown up believing she is incapable of being loved or respected due to her body-type. After an awkward encounter with a subway mugger, she suffers a concussion and wakes up in a world that functions exactly like a rom-com, complete with a sassy gay friend, a sudden inability to swear, uncalled for narration, and full on dance numbers. Natalie is forced to use her limited knowledge of romantic comedies to figure out how to end this nightmare.
What makes this film so awesome is that we see our “romantic lead” call out each unrealistic depiction that is typical of rom-coms, from the clean streets of New York City, to harmful flamboyant stereotypes, to shopping montages that in real life would be extremely uncomfortable for those with a larger body-types.
Much against my expectations, I genuinely enjoyed this film.
It’s kind of the perfect rom-com, because it doesn’t force you to succumb to hurtful assumptions, and ultimately allows you to enjoy the ridiculous ride of one remarkable person pursuing love in a confusing world.
[Suggested emojis: Thumbs Up; Heart-eyed Face]
‘ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL’(PG-13)
‘Alita: Battle Angel’ has potential, with stunning cyberpunk production design and a sweeping science fiction universe to play in. All of that is promptly wasted with lazy writing and a derivative plot that left me nodding off, having seen similar concepts before in stories like “The Hunger Games” and “The Lunar Chronicles.” The movie has nothing original to say, and relies on lines of dialogue that could have been pulled from fortune cookies.
The sappy love story of Alita and Hugo is cute, but does not warrant the resulting level of angst, and feels artificial. Alita has better chemistry with the stray dog she rescues (they are adorable together). Honestly, that dog is the only part of this film that I enjoyed.
Rosa Salazar’s performance as Alita - the gangly teenager turned warrior - is hampered by accentuated CGI eyes that were added as an homage to her anime origins. Her transition into a powerful cyborg is disappointing and rushed. More time was needed to lay the groundwork of her personal arc and establish Alita’s personality beyond parkour skills and graceful flying kicks.