Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Review

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Written by James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis

Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly

Rated: PG-13

Run-Time: 2h 2m

Genre: Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 62%

Available on Hulu and HBO Max

A cyborg uses her prodigious fighting skills to take on corrupt authorities in a future dystopia. (Hulu)

It’s not every day that a film introduces its titular character in what may very well be their lowest of lows. When we are introduced to the cyborg Alita she is, for all intents and purposes, long discarded trash. Regardless of this her brain, as well as her core power source, are still in prime condition. It takes the work of one Dr. Ido to restore her into working order. With a new body and life, Alita remembers nothing and is forced to adjust to her new surroundings while trying to remember her obscure past. Dr. Ido, who becomes a father figure to Alita, and a young man named Hugo, her love interest, help her along the way. 

I didn’t know what to expect from a movie based on a manga, let alone a film based on such an extensive and well-written manga. I was concerned when the trailer first came out, mainly since it follows the disappointing 2017 Ghost in Shell adaption. Like most viewers, I was shocked by Miss Salazar’s exaggerated eyes. When first exposed to the imagery, I admit that the effects of the uncanny valley were strong. This detail can be somewhat ignored after you consider that the manga makes a point to give Alita exaggerated features, though, if I recall, it was initially her “large” lips. This detail would prove to be the only character design decision I continuously questioned. 

My main qualm with the film is that the CGI was often poorly executed. As a result, there were scenes in which I found myself being pulled out of the film, solely due to the poor integration of computer-generated backgrounds with the live-action actors. Additionally, the digital augmentation of Alita’s face often comes off as awkward, most notably in the scene in which she tries chocolate for the first time. Otherwise, the film was beautiful and fully embraced the cyberpunk aesthetic.

For the most part, I have minimal complaints with the film. I was pleasantly surprised by the character development and the overall execution. I wouldn’t call the film your run-of-the-mill origin story. For what it’s trying to achieve regarding its source material, I would call it successful. Many may say there isn’t a plot, but the film gets the job done as an introductory film to a potential franchise. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, which was not what I expected.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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