The film adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s manga Alita: Battle Angel sees Robert Rodriguez in the director’s chair with James Cameron as producer. James Cameron had rights to this for years and I’ve waited until something came to fruition. I remember reading about this back in the day but eventually lost hope when nothing came out of it. I’ve always loved Yukito Kishiro’s manga. I think it’s brilliant. You should definitely check it out when you have the chance.
This film tells the story of Alita, a cyborg found in a scrap heap. Dr. Ido, who specializes in repairing cybernetic limbs, completely reconstructs Alita’s body. When she regains her consciousness, she has no recollection of her past. However, she is able to do amazing things and we get to watch her journey as she rediscovers her identity. There’s much attention to detail in this film. You can tell Rodriguez and Cameron care about the manga. They’ve done their best to make sure we received a very well put together Alita movie. The world is absolutely gorgeous. The effects are spectacular. Honestly, they just might be the best I’ve seen in a movie. The motorball scenes are so exciting and so well done. I feel like they’re going to please a lot of people who are fans of the manga.
There are a few narrative things that they changed. Nothing too crazy, though. The core aspects of the manga and the characters in it translate into this film beautifully. This really feels like Alita’s world on the big screen. Some of the subtle nuances about the way society views each other in regard to the higher society and the people who live in the lower part of the world who so desperately want to make it to the floating city of Salem are very reminiscent of Neill Blomkamp’s 2013 film Elysium.
Alita: Battle Angel relies heavily on action. There’s a lot of great fight scenes in this film that fans are sure to enjoy. It isn’t as cerebral as Ghost In The Shell was and doesn’t have much to say regarding the human condition but this movie definitely will keep you entertained. There is a sensual romance in this film that I didn’t really care much for. It was very over the top and melodramatic that just didn’t work for me. It just didn’t seem believable. This also goes for the villains as well. The main antagonist Nova who lives on Salem, throughout the film speaks through others to get his points across. He never really seems too involved in the movie. He’s kinda like the emperor. I believe someone’s enjoyment of this film will heavily rely on how much they enjoy anime because it’s unapologetically anime.
I’ve been waiting for a film like this for a very long time. However, people who aren’t as well versed in anime may have gripes with this one. Plot holes appear, though none of them ruined my viewing experience. This movie has no issue staying true to itself. It’s an electric, live-action anime thrill ride. Also, it helps if you are familiar with the manga. That way, you’ll be able to follow some of the references made that wouldn’t make much sense if you haven’t read it. My opinion might have bias since I love the manga. Seeing so many parts of the manga successfully translated on screen satisfied me as a fan, although for others that may not be the case.
Rose Salazar is fantastic as Alita. The special effects and cinematography are also stunning. I really can’t give them enough praise. Additionally, Christoph Waltz plays Dr. Ido very well. Jennifer Connelly’s character Chiren didn’t get enough shine to me. They tried to give her some depth near the end of the film, but her character wasn’t as much of a presence here as she should’ve been. This goes for Mahershala Ali’s character Vector too. His character is often the puppet of Nova and it’s difficult to get a sense for who he is as a person. Sure, he may have evil intentions. Yet you feel somewhat bad for him as you realize his actions possibly stem from the mistreatment from Nova.
Alita: Battle Angel is a film that is better than critics are saying it is. It’s a film that does so much for the filmmaking industry. It’s really hard to watch this and simply not be impressed by the attention to detail and how much work was put into creating a film of this magnitude. A badass style of beauty like this is hard to come by. As a person who’s been wanting to see this film for quite a while, I did not leave the theater disappointed. And I can’t wait to see how they progress this franchise moving forward.