Alita: Battle Angel is the first big special effects action-fest of the year that happens to have a heart.
Score: 3.5 / 5
2019 say hello to your first massive action spectacle with production values that are typically saved for the summer or the holidays. I can’t stress enough this movie is a visual splendor and a very impressive display of what films are able to pull of in this day and age. Are there scenes that still feel a tad too unreal? Sure, the action can get absolutely bonkers, but the amount of scenes where this digitally created character blends with actual real flesh and blood humans is nuts. Oh and the bonkers action is damn awesome.
So what is Alita all about? It’s set in the future future, where society got so advanced it blasted the crap out of each other but we aren’t in some end of the world desolation, we are 300 years past that and the humanity kept on trucking. Well in this future we focus on a ground level city called Iron City. It’s the place where all the remains of the human race have gathered. They live and work for the last floating city that survived that huge end of the world war 300 years earlier. In this world technology isn’t left just to the elite upper city, for Iron city is filled with cyborgs part human part robots. They are everywhere, and they even have a huge dangerous sport that is like a mixture of soccer and Nascar. Well the story really kicks off when a doctor who specializes in cyborgs finds the remains of a damaged cyborg girl. Pretty much just her head which still contains her brain safely undamaged. The doctor gives this girl a new body and she awakens to no memory. It’s through this film that she journeys from a girl with no memory to a woman with strength and purpose.
What makes Alita more than just a visual treat is this focus on this journey that Alita goes through. It gives the movie a great deal of heart and you want her to prevail. It also does a great job on commenting on perspective. Alita with no memory sees a world of beauty where everyone else sees a city of trash. Her view of the world effects every person she meets for better or worse if you stand in her way.
There are some plots points that feel a tad more rushed, between a romance, and the overarching villain in the clouds. In fact the true bad guy of this movie are the parts that feel the most ripped out of a manga, and very much leave you a little annoyed that this thread isn’t followed through to a greater degree or hidden more to avoid that disappointment. On the other end we get brief glimpses of Alita’s past life, and where this villian flashes are annoying I loved all the bits of her past, hell I’d love to see a movie just on that story. It definitely makes me want to look into reading the full manga.
Since the film’s soul rests on Alita working, it’s great that they had an actress like Rosa Salazar on board. She brings the character to life and gives her that extra dimension of wonder and power. I hope she gets her chance at some other action films in the future. Just spitballing here but pair her and Emily Blunt together, what magic that would be. The rest of the cast work off her and some work better than others. Well honestly the rest of the group are very much just playing their part. It’s not necessarily a bad thing since this is a story about the Battle Angel herself but it would have been nice to have more interesting performances to act against.
Even with some weaker side plot elements and a cast that could be more spectacular, Alita: Battle Angel is a fun ride in the theaters. It packs a punch, and gives more badass female representation which is always welcome. Make no mistake this is a movie that begs to be watched on the biggest, brightest screen possible, so if you are going to check this out, don’t wait for this on the small screen, you’ll lose something more special in the process.