Alita: Battle Angel is a 2019 cyberpunk action film directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-produced by James Cameron through his production company Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. It is based on the Gunnm manga (later known as Battle Angel Alita) by Yukito Kishiro.
In the year 2563, 300 years after a war known as “The Fall,” scientist and medical professional Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) finds a dismembered cyborg with an intact brain in a scrapyard below the last sky city Zalem. He rebuilds her and when she reveals she has no memory, he names her Alita (Rosa Salazar), after his deceased daughter. She meets Hugo (Keean Johnson), a young punk who is secretly stealing parts from cyborgs for a man named Vector (Mahershala Ali) who runs a deadly cybernetic sport called Motorball. She soon discovers she has a natural talent for a forgotten Martial Arts style “Panzer Kunst.” This causes Alita to explore her roots and, despite objections from Dr. Ido, she soon becomes a ‘hunter warrior’ bounty hunter and later a player in Motorball which earns the attention of Vector and a vicious cyborg named Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley) who want her cybernetic heart since it is forgotten technology.
Since I am unfamiliar with the manga, I cannot compare it in that sense. As a movie, I definitely enjoyed it. While the violence was a bit brutal at times, I found the characters interesting, the world well-developed, and the special effects were spot on. The movie did have a lot to stuff in and it felt like several convenient plot points or “MacGuffins” were used to explain away logic concerns in the plot.
That being said, the film did a good job of setting up its world. It is one of the best cyberpunk aesthetics I have seen in a movie. The sets, though I know were developed with a lot of CGI, looked like an incredible dystopian future. Rodriguez does a good job of crafting the narrative and building the backdrop.
I also want to praise Rosa Salazar. She is incredible as Alita and portrays the character in an excellent fashion. A few critics complained that Alita is a Mary Sue. Clearly, they fell asleep during the movie and needed to write something. She goes through struggles in every manner of form. While she does have a natural prowess for warrior skills, both her victories and defeats are not without consequence physically as well as emotionally and with Salazar in the role, she delivers on every level.
I would like to note that this is one of the final films 20th Century Fox before their acquisition by the Walt Disney Company. It definitely represents an end of an era. I am curious to see where Lightstorm Entertainment will take the franchise with James Cameron hinting at a trilogy.
Bottom line, this is an enjoyable and entertaining science fiction flick with a dynamite performance by its protagonist with an interesting cyberpunk, dystopian backdrop for its main plot.
FAVORITE QUOTE: I do not standby in the presence of evil!
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Brutal violence, Foul language
Check out the trailer below:
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