Alita: Battle Angel
Updated: Mar 3, 2019
This is a labyrinth of a storyline about a female cyborg struggling to regain her memories after being found by a cyberphysician in Iron City, a city which has failed to recover from a war with Mars 300 years earlier. The main villain of the film is an interesting one, he seems in some ways to be the personification of George Orwell’s concept of Big Brother… he sees all. His name is Nova and he lives in the mysterious utopia of Zalem, a city that floats above the ruined cities.
‘I don’t need your permission to live’ - Alita
Alita: Battle Angel was a highly anticipated film, and many were hoping that James Cameron would not fall short of the expectations that have been placed upon him every since the release of his hit Avatar. If money is anything to go by, Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s film has potential to be the next big hit. Overall, this film has made a whopping $265.7 million worldwide! No doubt, its net earnings will continue to rise because this film is pretty damn good. Interestingly, Alita seems to be battling against How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World when it comes to box office earnings. HTTYD 3 has grossed roughly $283.1 million worldwide! My last review was on HTTYD 3, so feel free to see my thoughts on that.
Alita is an adaptation based on the Gunnm manga books by Yukito Kishiro, which explains Alita’s large bug-like eyes whcih are very much anime/manga style. These eyes do become rather endearing after acclimatising to the dissonance between the unrealistic eyes and very realistic body of the cyborg girl. Many fans of Gunnm, were very sceptical about this adaptation due to Hollywood’s track record of ruining anime adaptations. For example, Ghost in a Shell bombed mostly due to the casting of a white female in the role of a Japanese robot, and Avatar: The Last Airbender failed so badly it won an award for ‘Worst Picture’ and its planned trilogy was scrapped. Granted I haven’t read the series; however, I found Alita entertaining and really see the potential of the storyline. Comics 1-3 out of 9 have been covered in James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation, so a sequel or two is definitely on the cards. Plus, the ending of Alita wasn’t enough of an ending, but more of a promise of what’s to come.
Throughout the film there are many mini plot points which makes it hard to guess which direction the film is going to go in, this can make the film a bit confusing but kind of makes the story more engaging once you embrace the fact that you have very little idea of what is going to happen next.
I will say that there were some slight continuity issues that are slightly bothersome, for example there is a scene with a Alita eating sandwich, then she gets distracted by an adorable dog and goes to stroke it… but WHERE DOES THE SANDWICH GO? Was the sandwich just discarded on the floor? Because if so, wasting food in a derelict city seems a bit ungrateful… just saying.
There is definitely some gratuitous violence in this film but that’s not such a bad thing, cyborg faces and arms flying off here and there is rather amusing. Actually, the fight scenes were impressively choreographed and seemed more like dances due to the flexible and seamless movements of the animation. But even in the fight scenes there seemed to be points that didn’t make sense, or it seemed like a few seconds of the sequence was missing, but perhaps this was just because of how fast the sequences were and my brain did not have time to process each step quick enough.
There were some brilliant performances, especially by Rosa Salazar (Alita) and Ed Skrein (Zapan), on a whole I would say there were no weak links in the cast. Salazar is a wonderful actress, so much so that I remembered how much I enjoyed her performance in season 1 of American Horror Story, even though she had very little screen time. Therefore, it’s great to see her in a lead role which suits her amazingly. Furthermore, Salazar filmed all of her scenes wearing MOCAP (motion capture) suit with a camera directly in front of her face attached to a headpiece in order to capture her facial movements. To be able to connect with your fellow actors and to be able to move so swiftly whilst wearing this piece of kit is quite admirable. Salazar’s form is glorious, as are all of the other half CGI, half human forms in this film. Such characters where created via a superimposition of CGI over live captures of the actor. Visually, it is a work of art. The motion capture is so smooth and humanistic, its pretty insane. This world of human/robot hybrids is so believable and awe-inspiring to see.
On a side note, Dua Lipa’s Swan Song was made for this film. Admittedly I had no appreciation for this song and after hearing it many times over and over again for the past few weeks on the radio, I am now surprised as to how much I am listening to it after watching Alita. Lipa’s song is so much more enjoyable, probably because I enjoyed Alita so much and associate one with the other.
I was considering how Cyborg Feminism could be influenced by this film, and I may do an article on this later, but for now I have deemed that this may not be super relevant. But regardless, Alita is a strong female heroine, both in her physical strength and in her moral strength. I will mention that a human-cyborg love story also features, and is surprisingly not cringe or weird, but may I add that it is so refreshing to see a male as a 'damsel in distress' awaiting the aid of his bad-ass cyborg girlfriend. If you do wanna see some of that, definitely give this film a watch, it’s a perfect film to see to celebrate International Women’s Day!
P.S Alita can slice a teardrop in half and that in itself should be reason enough to want to see the film.
Age Rating: 12A
4 out of 5*