By James Hibberd
July 23, 2018 at 11:48 AM EDT
  • Movie

There’s an eye-popping new trailer for James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s upcoming sci-fi fantasy Alita: Battle Angel.

Above is a trailer that wowed fans at Comic-Con in San Diego on Friday (in addition to 18 minutes of clips which are not being released online). Set several centuries in the future, the film tells the story of the cyborg Alita (Rosa Salazar) who is salvaged from a scrapyard in Iron City by a compassionate cyber-doctor, Ido (Christoph Waltz), and discovers she has unique fighting powers. The film uses advanced motion capture techniques to create 3D-like photo-real characters that attempts to bring the film’s manga source material to life.

While the cyberpunk thriller’s first trailer garnered criticisms of having an “uncanny valley” feel, particularly for the wide-eyed Alita, the second seems to be more realistic.

Based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga Battle Angel Alita, the adaptation was first written by Cameron more than a decade ago and has long been a passion project for the director. Cameron ultimately opted to focus on making another one of his scripts, Avatar (and now its many sequels), instead. “It was literally practically a coin toss…I thought was doing Alita and then Avatar pulled ahead,” Cameron told fans on Facebook Live on Monday. The director’s story material was immense and included penning a whole manual about how to behave as a cyborg.

He then enlisted Rodriguez (Sin City) for directing duties on the ambitious project, which blends live action, motion capture performances and CG animation. Rodriguez pared down Cameron’s lengthy script while managing to keep all the parts he liked the best. 

“We tried to work together for many years because we enjoy each other’s company,” Robert Rodriguez added, “But I always knew I’d been learning from him more than he’d be learning from me … I’ve got a Word document that’s probably over 100 pages of ‘what I learned from Jim.'” To which Cameron objected, noting Rodriguez’s stylish work on Sin City had The Terminator director taking some notes too.

Alita: Battle Angel is being released on Dec. 21, where it’s going to launch head-to-head with another fantastical adventure, DC’s Aquaman — see that trailer here.

  • Movie
release date
  • 02/14/19
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