Movie Review: Alita: Battle Angel
Last week I got to see an advance screening of Alita: Battle Angel and to me, anything with James Cameron’s name attached is going to be epic, which is why Alita: Battle Angel was a must-see. The Terminator director bought the rights to the manga series by Yukito Kishiro – originally called Battle Angel Alita – with the intention of bringing this tale of the cyborg hero to the screen. But then Avatar became the biggest movie of all time, and Cameron handed over his script to Sin City’s Robert Rodriguez.
Background: When Alita (cyborg girl) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido, 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 in the dangerous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo offers instead to help trigger her memories. 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.
As expected (and why I wanted to see the film), the visuals alone should be the primary reason as to why anyone should see this. From the character designs to the towns that are amazingly built, the world here is phenomenal, especially when viewed on an IMAX 3D screen.
Even though the graphics were terrific, the dialogue and screenwriting are not great, featuring conversations that seem like they were written by a bot with no knowledge whatsoever about real human interaction. Huge-eyed Alita - who is played by actress Rosa Salazar with CGI effects - character is thinly developed. The Alita-Hugo romance wasn’t believable either. I wanted to know more about her and get emotionally attached, but that connection was lack of and left me slightly disappointed.
The film is also shockingly uninteresting. I can’t speak to the manga that inspired it, but it felt like a mashup of “Blade Runner,” “Robocop” and “Rollerball,” and “Dark Angel” to me.
All, in all, Alita is an impressive creation, with substantial anime eyes, a perfectly-contoured face (a little scar on her nose, pores) and minimal emotional expressiveness. Whatever the limitations of the technology, at least a bit of that fall on Salazar. The body motion is a lot more natural looking. The fights — and there are many — are even more technically impressive than the interface between human actors and animated ones. Alita does kick ass in this film and sometimes in a fun, girl boss way. Is cosplaying as Alita calling my name? Perhaps. I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Alita: Battle Angel opens in the UK on Feb. 6 and in the United States on Feb. 14.