Exactly my sentiments, TCMG. It is just an uninspired movie. I remember a joke Honest Trailers made about the Ghostbusters remake. It went something like "this movie shows that girls can make middle of the road, cash grabs just as well as the boys" And that is exactly what this movie is.
I wouldn't go as far as to say critics were paid off or Disney/Marvel are trying to capitalize on a divided world but it is what it is. It is safe bet filmmaking going off the success of a franchise and its inbuilt fanbase. I just want to see them try harder.
I did watch Alita. As you mentioned the pacing issues of the first half really pulled me out of it. It felt like too much too soon and would have worked better with a slicker script. The action was indeed amazing and they make the world very neat and presentable. If only, the storytelling was better.
But that film didn't have the internet zeitgeist powering it so it was overly reliant on the Chinese box office to be profitable.
The old adage goes, "Before you learn to run, you learn to walk, and before you learn to walk, you learn to crawl." This maxim and the reasoning behind it dictate why we drop a small library's worth of colouring and alphabet-tracing books on a child as he/she walks into playschool. One needs to learn to colour within the lines before painting a masterpiece.
The pre-set lines of a standard Marvel standalone film look something like this: We are introduced to a noble hero as played by a well-regarded yet moderately popular actor. We are also introduced to an utterly forgettable vi....