Robert Rodriguez got to “make a James Cameron movie” with ‘Alita: Battle Angel’

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(l-r) Producer James Cameron and Director Robert Rodriguez on the set of ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL/Rico Torres(NEW YORK) -- Alita: Battle Angel, a new film based on a beloved graphic novel series, opens Wednesday. The movie was a passion project developed for decades by Oscar-winner James Cameron, who became too busy with his Avatar series to shoot it himself. 

Stepping into his shoes was his fan -- and friend -- Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez, famous for the micro-budget hits like El Mariachi, its spin-off Desperado, and the Spy Kids movies, told ABC Radio what drew him to Alita.

"I usually stayed away from bigger movies because I liked the freedom that I had on a lower budget...but this was a chance to make a Jim Cameron movie," Rodriguez said. "And [I've] known Jim for many years, we tried to work together before and and I always loved this idea of him doing Battle Angel."

"When I found out he couldn't do it, I looked at the script and just loved what he had written," he continues. "I thought, 'I could go do it in your place because I just want to see this movie -- I want to see this missing Jim Cameron movie!'" 

Set in the far future, Alita's title character is a cyborg, a computer generated character brought to life by actress Rosa Salazar using cutting-edge performance capture technology.

"I think that you need to have a character if she's going to be photo-real CGI, I think she needs to be warm," Salazar explains. "If you don't like her, then everything tends to alienate the viewer.

"So for me...I was really proud to see that I made those choices," she continues. "I felt like, 'OK good. You do want to stand next to her. You do want to reach out and touch her. You do want to go on this journey with her.'"

In the film, Alita is brought back to life by a gifted cybernetics doctor, played by Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, however she soon discovers her true identity: as a fearsome soldier from an apocalyptic war long ago.


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