Alita: Battle Angel is directed by Robert Rodriguez and it is based on the manga Gunnm by Yukito Kishiro. It tells the story of Alita, a half-human, half-cyborg who is trying to figure out what her past life was like while at the same time experiencing life for the second time. This movie stars Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson, Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelly.
I have never read the manga or seen the OVA’s for Alita, in fact, I’ve never even heard about this franchise till this movie was announced. At first, I thought this movie was based on some video game. I knew little about what the movie was about going in. I was pleasantly surprised by the story and the lore. After watching the movie I went to look into this universe. I am even considering buying the manga. The characters and the world are too fascinating to just experience them in the movie version only in my opinion.
This movie mostly got attention because of two things, it’s produced by James Cameron and the special effects look phenomenal. If you are going to see this movie for it’s special effects, you will be more than satisfied. The special effects in this movie are amazing and what makes them work even more is the world-building. The world of Alita is presented in a beautiful way, there are many places the characters go to and the use of colours and great cinematography makes a visit to this world memorable.
The cast is great, Rosa Salazar is great as Alita, she really presents a three-dimensional character. Alita is flawed, she is naive and curious but at the same time she is a badass robot who can kick your ass. Christoph Waltz is also great in this movie, I love his character, he works really well with Salazar’s Alita. While he does play the cliched overprotective creator, he has moments where he just escapes that cliche and does unexpected things. No spoilers obviously. Mahershala Ali was really under-utilized. He wasn’t menacing and he didn’t present himself as a serious threat, even though he is not the main villain, he is still an antagonist.
The same can be said for Jennifer Connelly, these roles could have been played by anyone and it wouldn’t matter. It’s not their acting because they did their utmost with the little they were given, it was the script because it didn’t give them enough to do. Keean Johnson is fine as Hugo however I didn’t like his character one bit. He makes some really odd choices and his character doesn’t get past the love interest level. He does have some charming moments but other than that just a typical love interest. That being said I don’t necessarily hate these characters, they don’t even affect the story that much.
The movie excels in action scenes, the Motorball scene is really cool and thrilling. Tom Holkenborg’s musical score also turns to an eleven during this scene. Also this movie is really fast-paced at first. What is impressive about that is that even though it is fast-paced, there are still important and meaningful character moments between Alita and Dr. Ido. It never stops to a halt, it keeps going while still paying attention to important and necessary story elements. Also considering this movie is PG-13, it is incredibly violent for a movie with that rating. It pushes the boundaries like no other movie.
One flaw which actually bothered me was the romance aspect of this movie. The relationship between Alita and Hugo does not work. Not only is Alita too eager and naive but there wasn’t any love chemistry between them. There is a scene where the two are standing in front of the city at night and he is telling her his feelings and he says the cheesiest, corniest thing. Thankfully this romance doesn’t take up a huge portion of the movie and I actually really liked how they left them at the end. It was really moving and heartbreaking, however if it wasn’t for one of Hugo’s dumb decisions, it wouldn’t have happened.
After watching the movie, as I kept thinking, it really grew on me. I watched parts of the anime and I was astonished at how the movie literally copied shots from the anime and brought them to life. It was amazing. The people behind the movie clearly did their research with this movie. The way the left the movie reminded me a lot of the first Hunger Games in terms of the villain and if this potential franchise does go in that direction then I am really excited for a potential sequel or even a trilogy.
Overall Alita: Battle Angel is a visually stunning movie which is carried by it’s main actress and character. While it does have a lacking cast of secondary characters, the exciting action and impressive world-building makes it all worth seeing. It’s a movie which after having seen it, I really want to know more, it leaves you wanting more of this world and Alita. It’s nowhere near as bad as the critics are saying, go and give this one a shot because chances are you will like it.