After nearly two decades of obsessively trying to adapt Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita to film, James Cameron is finally going to get to see the manga on screens next summer. It’s at a cost, though: he’s now only producing, not directing, the adaptation. Also, it looks a diabolical nightmare.
Back in 2015, Cameron, pointlessly devoted to making five or so Avatar movies, passed the project over to Robert Rodriguez. As seen in his Sin City films, Rodriguez has shown a talent for bringing comic-book aesthetics to live-action films, but with Alita, he appears to have gone too far. In keeping with the style of not just Battle Angel but the vast majority of manga, he’s given his live-action Alita absolutely enormous eyes. Making that decision all the odder, it’s only Alita who looks like she has CGI Graves’ disease; everyone else looks like a normal if cybernetic human that should be terrified at this girl’s freakish oculars.
Anyway, an unrecognizable Rosa Salazar stars in the title role, playing what’s roughly Bourne as a cyborg lady. Christoph Waltz, again associating himself with the Big Eyes imagery of Keane paintings, co-stars alongside Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Rodriguez, Mahershala Ali, Jackie Earle Haley, Eiza González, and Casper Van Dien. You can see Cameron’s longstanding vision of haunting corneas when Alita: Battle Angel hits the slightly-bigger-than-these-terrifying-eyes screen July 20.