Critics Consensus

Alita: Battle Angel Is Style over Substance... but the Style Is Killer

Plus, Isn't It Romantic is moderately clever, Happy Death Day 2U is fairly fun, and Doom Patrol and Umbrella Academy keep superheroes interesting.

by | February 14, 2019 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we’ve got an amnesiac android (Alita: Battle Angel, starring Rosa Salazar and Christoph Waltz), a meta rom-com (Isn’t It Romantic, starring Rebel Wilson and Liam Hemsworth), and a sequel we’ve seen before… or have we (Happy Death Day 2U, starring Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard)? What are the critics saying?

Alita: Battle Angel (2019) 61%

The Japanese cyberpunk manga Battle Angel Alita began publication back in 1990, and when James Cameron got wind of it (via Guillermo del Toro, no less), he became instantly fascinated by it and began development on it as a passion project. Ultimately, after years of delays, Cameron found himself occupied by Avatar and its sequels, so he handed the reins over to Robert Rodriguez. The film centers on a scientist (Christoph Waltz) who discovers a deactivated cyborg (played in motion-capture by Rosa Salazar) in a junkyard and gives her a new body, only to realize her previous function was much more lethal. Alita: Battle Angel has impressed critics with its groundbreaking, immersive special effects — par for the course with any film produced by James Cameron — but it takes some of its narrative cues from better films that have come before. It’s an eye-popping theater experience, to be sure, and if that’s what you’re looking for, Alita delivers enough entertainment value to keep you in your seat. Just don’t expect to be blown away — or even particularly engaged — by its story.

Isn't It Romantic (2019) 70%

The danger in making a film that aims to be a genre takedown is that it can easily fall prey to the same cliches it’s attempting to ridicule, resulting in a final product that feels disingenuous and sometimes phony. In other words, it’s an incredibly risky proposition, and according to the reviews, this week’s Isn’t It Romantic just manages to pull it off, mostly thanks to its star, Rebel Wilson. The story follows a cynical architect who wakes up from a mugging encounter to discover that she has become the star of her own romantic comedy. Critics say the meta narrative, while not entirely fresh, still offers a few surprises and clever gags, and Wilson lights up the screen as the unwilling protagonist of her own love story. It doesn’t have much of a story outside of its initial high-concept premise, and it’s perhaps not as smart as it thinks it is, but you could definitely do worse for a Valentine’s date movie.

Happy Death Day 2U (2019) 70%

In 2017, Universal and Blumhouse mixed the trappings of a classic slasher film with the déjà vu antics of Groundhog Day and achieved surprisingly effective results, so this week we get a return trip through the time loop with a slightly different twist. Jessica Rothe reprises her role as college student Tree Gelbman once again finds herself reliving the same day over and over again. Only thing is, this time around, the person responsible for her death in the first film is also murdered here, which means there’s a new killer on the loose. Critics say Happy Death Day 2U isn’t quite as much fun as the original — as the Arizona Republic’s Bill Goodykoontz writes, “a movie can only be a pleasant surprise once” — and it gets a little bogged down in trying to explain why what’s happening is happening, but it still packs some bloody thrills and hearty chuckles for the horror-comedy aficionados among us.

What’s New on TV

Doom Patrol: Season 1 (2019) 96%

DC Universe finds breakout material in this iteration of Doom Patrol thanks to a fully committed cast and the writing’s faith in weirdness.

The Umbrella Academy: Season 1 (2019) 75%

The Umbrella Academy unfurls an imaginative yarn with furtive emotion and an exceptionally compelling ensemble, but the series’ dour sensibility often clashes with its splashy genre trappings.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

Tag Cloud

Sundance Now VH1 Paramount romance Black Mirror YA spinoff New York Comic Con Premiere Dates GIFs Food Network 2016 sag awards Thanksgiving comics BBC America Red Carpet Hulu ratings batman Mary Tyler Moore Rom-Com comic Video Games Turner Classic Movies DC streaming service 2020 singing competition GLAAD Spring TV sports travel Grammys kids HBO Elton John Pop TV ghosts cancelled movies Avengers PaleyFest Schedule Amazon Studios TV Land Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt AMC Superheroe cancelled TV shows YouTube Red political drama Peacock Chernobyl 45 LGBTQ Nominations Amazon Prime Apple best TIFF 71st Emmy Awards Warner Bros. movie mutant period drama Infographic indie Pet Sematary Sundance TV See It Skip It Marathons Disney stand-up comedy Musical witnail finale Emmy Nominations YouTube Premium composers Calendar Academy Awards Ovation OneApp parents Mudbound Best and Worst Disney streaming service Tumblr Song of Ice and Fire Star Trek anime Star Wars Women's History Month aliens Horror Character Guide Disney Channel A&E Country reboot christmas movies Television Academy ABC a nightmare on elm street Rocketman E! Baby Yoda Martial Arts Film Festival DC Universe cats theme song Trivia based on movie disaster Music TV renewals TCA reviews crime drama Lifetime Christmas movies Valentine's Day Trophy Talk MTV CNN NBC psycho Action asian-american First Look Winners dc RT21 Starz Lionsgate The Purge casting MSNBC DGA spanish language Comics on TV Watching Series Tarantino FX police drama FX on Hulu Marvel Television Pixar nature 007 cars spider-man E3 cancelled television Sci-Fi joker ABC Family Logo Marvel Studios Masterpiece quibi war Disney+ Disney Plus docudrama werewolf revenge Travel Channel Fox News Shondaland A24 true crime History teaser Super Bowl free movies facebook Cosplay 2015 Podcast slashers versus Drama National Geographic Photos TBS Funimation breaking bad stoner hist Fantasy foreign Interview justice league PBS politics CW Seed ITV Family cults Christmas Adult Swim NYCC Chilling Adventures of Sabrina diversity harry potter space chucky sitcom Bravo Pride Month psychological thriller Teen SundanceTV APB The CW Apple TV+ zombie Cannes mockumentary technology Binge Guide Pirates TruTV Lucasfilm transformers Mindy Kaling GoT south america President supernatural Holiday canceled award winner festivals cancelled TV series Mary poppins BET hispanic game show USA Hallmark Christmas movies crime book Sony Pictures crime thriller CBS The Arrangement serial killer animated binge IFC CMT miniseries Certified Fresh Creative Arts Emmys historical drama Rocky LGBT Amazon Election romantic comedy latino Trailer halloween Reality Competition Esquire Awards Tour cartoon natural history Reality 2019 TLC Crunchyroll series TCA 2017 green book Nat Geo Marvel Arrowverse die hard adventure Walt Disney Pictures Tubi Film Oscars dark zombies WGN mission: impossible 2017 Classic Film renewed TV shows criterion Syfy franchise social media Brie Larson jamie lee curtis Anna Paquin dogs SXSW Black History Month comedies Cartoon Network WarnerMedia independent Tomatazos Spectrum Originals Nickelodeon blaxploitation dragons science fiction CBS All Access Britbox IFC Films universal monsters San Diego Comic-Con Mary Poppins Returns Netflix Christmas movies HBO Max cooking Countdown 2018 dramedy discovery adaptation cinemax Emmys Musicals Writers Guild of America Rock FXX television Ellie Kemper Amazon Prime Video 21st Century Fox El Rey Mystery Heroines Endgame X-Men Toys Disney Plus Pop thriller Western streaming Opinion DirecTV concert spy thriller Ghostbusters Superheroes Comedy talk show YouTube dceu Hallmark SDCC 24 frames TCA Winter 2020 directors Captain marvel Turner documentary name the review Sneak Peek Columbia Pictures OWN what to watch Crackle TV Freeform comiccon USA Network screen actors guild elevated horror TCM game of thrones 20th Century Fox Stephen King richard e. Grant TNT child's play Dark Horse Comics American Society of Cinematographers doctor who strong female leads robots sequel Holidays Netflix Fall TV Lifetime boxoffice Quiz blockbuster Paramount Network biography Polls and Games Set visit screenings rotten movies we love The Witch toy story scary movies Vudu The Walking Dead Summer medical drama Kids & Family Acorn TV video golden globes Awards RT History Shudder FOX Hear Us Out Discovery Channel unscripted DC Comics BBC Universal cops tv talk Box Office Apple TV Plus Sundance canceled TV shows Biopics VICE Comic Book Animation 4/20 Epix vampires MCU Extras Spike children's TV Winter TV anthology Comedy Central crossover Year in Review ESPN Showtime First Reviews zero dark thirty spain