starring Rosa Salazar, Mahershala Ali, Eiza González, Christoph Waltz
screenplay by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis, based on the manga series "Gunnm" by Yukito Kishiro
directed by Robert Rodriguez
by Walter Chaw There's one genuinely good thing about Alita: Battle Angel and it has to do with a cameo by Jeff Fahey as a guy who really likes dogs. It's good because it's good to like dogs, but it also reminds of Fahey's villain from Silverado, who has a pretty great line about a dog; and it's good to be reminded of Silverado. In other words, the one genuinely good thing about Alita is there's something in it that, on purpose, reminds me of a good movie. The rest of it is noisy juvenilia taking place in the Sharkboy and Lavagirl universe--a YA disaster featuring the usual mysterious girl with the secret past who turns out to be a super-soldier and yadda yadda yadda. Jesus, does it break no new ground. Scrapper-cum-cyborg-engineer-slash-bounty-hunter Ido (Christoph Waltz, desperately hoping QT picks up the phone again) discovers the "core" of Alita (voiced and mo-capped by Rosa Salazar), basically her Victorian locket-silhouette parts, in the junkyard of a floating city housing the elites of this world ("300 YEARS AFTER THE FALL") and immediately grafts it to his dead daughter's unused robot body, because in addition to the movie being structurally unambitious and curiously sexist, it's also defiantly ableist. "I made her fast little legs," Ido says, mournfully, and then we get a flashback to the dead little girl being punched out of her wheelchair by a cyborg Ido created to compete in a future-game called "Rollerball"--I mean, "Murderskates." I don't know. Who cares. It's on roller skates and cyborgs do it. Oh, and they kill a dog.