Anime fans everywhere were filled with joy when they discovered that Yukito Kishiro’s beloved MANGA about the warrior Alita would be brought to the big screen by the talent of none other than James Cameron’s studio, responsible for visual wonders like “Avatar.”
After possessing the film rights to the property for years, the recent popularity of anime-styled films and TV shows in America finally convinced Cameron that now was the time to create a cinematic tale for Alita, a cybernetic warrior who has lost all of her memory after the battle for earth.
Alita’s story begins well into the 26th century after the battle for Earth. After being dumped into junkyards of Zalem, the last floating city on Earth, Dr. Ido, played by Christoph Waltz, finds and rebuilds Alita, played by Rosa Salazar, and discovers that she has much more potential than anyone he’s ever seen.
Despite his best efforts to shield Alita from the dangerous world around her, Dr. Ido is unable to conceal her from the all-seeing ruler of Zalem, the villainous Nova, played by Edward Norton.
Alita’s journey of self-discovery leads her to become a champion for the oppressed peoples of Iron City who are forced to live off of Zalem’s scraps. She possesses ancient knowledge that even she isn’t fully aware of, enabling her to challenge the most formidable of foes.
She becomes a type of public vigilante who fights against Nova’s henchmen, biding her time until she can find a way to ascend to Zalem and put an end to the evils of Nova.
“Alita: Battle Angel” is a beautiful action-packed blockbuster, to say the least. The combination of steampunk and science fiction in one cinematic world is truly fascinating, especially considering the beautiful execution and cinematography utilized to display it.
Director Robert Rodriguez certainly knew what he was doing when he agreed to helm this anime-to-cinema adaptation; Alita’s world is stunning, intricate and intriguing.
Numerous fight sequences are dispersed throughout the film, and Rodriguez wisely chooses to film the action in wide, fluid shots rather than using close-up shaky-cam techniques. Action sequences are exhilarating and informative, as Rodriguez opts to add levels of character depth and a great deal of narrative significance to most of Alita’s more violent encounters.
This film is exceedingly well shot, edited and animated. The innovation on screen is such that even 2D shots seem 3D. The potential for depth and perspective in the film are maximized, and the result is magnificent.
Additionally, the father-daughter dynamic between Alita and Waltz’s Dr. Ido is heartwarming and provides strong emotional grounding for our main character.
Though the visuals, the action and the father-daughter dynamic are all incredibly strong in the film and often pull at your heartstrings, there are a couple of pretty disappointing aspects of this movie.
A romantic subplot is introduced early on and remains front-and-center throughout the film. This works to the film’s detriment as the chemistry in the relationship just isn’t present. The time wasted on this teenage love story could have been much better used elsewhere.
In fact, the substance of Alita’s character is damaged in the process by this boy whose narrative significance is pretty much that of a MacGuffin.
Because the script focuses so much on this romantic subplot, Dr. Ido’s and Nova’s characters receive less substance than they ought to.
Both are played by some of the best actors out there who undoubtedly bring everything to the table in the few sequences in which they are prominent. Because they aren’t given an adequate amount of time on screen, Nova ends up seeming like a secondary character instead of a truly menacing villain, and Dr. Ido sometimes simply seems like an annoying dad instead of the man who resurrected Alita and rebuilt her, piece by piece.
The largest flaw in “Alita: Battle Angel” is that there are too many secondary characters to keep track of. Because of this, the few that are truly important to the overarching plot lose out on significance, and the poignancy of the film’s narrative suffers as a result.
Despite this, anime fans and those who loved Alita’s MANGA will be pleased to know that this is a genuine and strong attempt to bring the style of anime and Japanese storytelling to the big screen. While past attempts have not been so successful, Alita truly captures the spirit of the source material and represents a new era in cinema.
Overall, “Alita: Battle Angel” is a pleasant and original diversion from traditional cinema that ought to satisfy any intrigued audience members.