Before he got wrapped up in the Avatar franchise, James Cameron for years promised to adapt the manga and anime Battle Angel Alita to the big screen, finally recruiting Robert Rodriguez of Sin City fame to direct. Now, after yet another casting controversy — it’s an adaptation of a Japanese work conspicuously short on Asian actors — we finally get a look at the results.
If you’re unfamiliar, Alita: Battle Angel follows the aforementioned Alita (Rosa Salazar). Anybody who knows their music can probably guess her past, since “Lullaby For A Soldier,” featured in the trailer, is a bit on the nose. Alita is a former war machine mysteriously wrecked by forces we only gradually lean about. Discarded in a dump and revived by what we think is a kind cyberneticist (Christoph Waltz), she then becomes a bounty hunter. Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali fill out the cast as the amnesiac Alita faces the classic Tin Man problem: Is she just a machine following a program? Or is there a spark of humanity among the wires and processors?
But while the manga dealt rather heavily with this problem, and it’s definitely a theme in the trailer, mostly people are asking, what’s up with Salazar’s freaky CGI eyes in this movie?
Giant eyes, of course, are a pretty common anime trope that have their roots in Japanese animators drawing inspiration from American cartoons. But you don’t usually see them in live action, bar the occasional Soundgarden video. We’ll find out whether audiences can get past the initial shock of their freaky appearance some time next July.