IT seemed like such a recipe for success.

Visionary filmmaker James Cameron, behind Terminator and Avatar, teaming up with Sin City and Desperado cult director Robert Rodriguez for an ambitious cyberpunk adventure set in the 26th century.

But behind the groundbreaking visuals and a couple of the performances, the story – based on the graphic novels by Yukito Kishiro – feels a little hollow.

Set 300 years after a devastating war, the last of humanity struggle to survive in little more than a scrapyard below the wealthy sky city of Zalem.

Cyborgs – beings that are part human and part machine – are commonplace in this sci-fi dystopia and when Dr Ido (Christoph Waltz) discovers a discarded and disembodied robotic girl with an intact human brain he feels duty bound to fix and help her.

Dr Ido names her Alita (Rosa Salazar) after his late daughter giving the early part of the film a dark fairytale quality.

But when Alita finds she has no memory of her former life and has incredible abilities she cannot understand, she goes out seeking answers alongside the streetwise Hugo (Keean Johnson).

Salazar is instantly likeable as Alita. Going from a vulnerable teen to a ‘battle angel’ , she puts in a great performance, especially considering all the motion capture involved for this computer-generated character.

But her chemistry with Hugo is not as convincing. That is partly due to clumsy dialogue which labours over explaining the film’s set-up and in doing so inadvertently gives away the broad strokes of the plot far too early.

Also there is something about a lot of the settings in the movie which do not feel quite real. It is a far cry from say Blade Runner’s grungy, lived-in world.

A sequel would still be welcome as there is potential for a great story in this universe...but this isn’t it.

RATING: 5.5/10