Originally published at: REVIEW OF ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL - People of Con
Author: Billy Madden
Alita: Battle Angel follows a cyborg with a few human qualities who has no prior knowledge of who she used to be. Abandoned in Iron City, she wants to remember her past, a secret that is being withheld from her by scrapyard businessman, Vector (Mahershala Ali) and his crew. As she learns about her origins, she runs away and is taken in by Dr. Ido (played by the incredible Christoph Waltz). When Alita discovers she is a target to be used for parts, the hunted becomes the hunter.
I’ve never read manga or seen much anime, so it was news to me that the character Alita was born from those mediums. What I know about anime as a medium is that the visuals are striking and the storytelling can be complex, two characteristics that Director James Cameron carries to the big screen.
When I first saw the trailer for Alita, I was completely awed by the dazzling CGI effects hitting my retinas. There have been many movies where the CGI looks cheap, causing one to lose interest in the film (looking at you, John Carter!). Alita, with its dazzling visuals, is the complete opposite. At many points during the movie, Alita looks real.
Cameron has been known to bring visually stunning movies to life with CGI. For many of us, he instilled a lifelong fear of the T-1000 from Terminator 2 and made the magical world of Pandora come to life in Avatar. At this point in his career, bringing Alita to life was almost an old hat. A little fun side note: Robert Patrick (who played the T-1000) used to go to my gym and was the nicest guy you could ever meet!
The action in Alita is on par with Cameron’s impressive palette of visuals. No guns are allowed in Iron City, so most combat scenes are fist-fights. Alita is of the cyborg breed best at fighting, a socket soldier, the deadliest around.
She is also an expert at Motorball, a competitive sport that’s Quidditch, racing, and deadly roller derby all rolled into one.
This game is important to the plot because Vector uses it to scrap the cyborgs for parts. For Alita, Motorball is another deadly hurdle she must overcome to discover the truth about her past. For the viewer, Motorball is a fun and fast-paced action that only advances Alita’s story.
Alita is well acted across the board. Rosa Salazar plays Alita, and aside from the character’s huge CGI eyes, her body and face look similar to the actress’s. The motion capture technology used was phenomenal.
I did see Alita in Dolby 3D, and I suggest you see it in the same format. The theater’s sound system was 11, so I felt every punch and explosion, a truly engrossing experience. And this movie was made in 3D. Usually, the 3D aspect of movies is gimmicky at best, but in Alita, it is used to perfection. You will have robot arms and Motorball balls flying at your face at various points in the movie.
For a movie rated PG-13, I thought Alita was pretty violent, and I do not believe it is appropriate for a younger audience. It’s a pretty dark movie storywise. Alita must always keep one eye open because danger lurks around every corner. For someone who knew nothing about the original manga, I had a great time. I highly recommend going out and seeing it in Dolby 3D. If you can, you’re in for a real treat.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Screenwriters: James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis, Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Based upon the graphic novel (“Manga”) series “GUNNM” by Yukito Kishiro – From visionary filmmakers James Cameron (AVATAR) and Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY), comes ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL, an epic adventure of hope and empowerment. When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize; she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history. In contrast, her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers to help trigger her memories instead. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family, and the world she’s grown to love.