An angel falls, a warrior rises
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Starting: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jenifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein
Set in the post-apocalyptic year 2563 the film focuses on Alita, a female cyborg who has lost all memories and is discovered amongst the rubbish in junkyard below the last sky city of Zalem by cybernetics doctor Dyson Ido, Only able to remember her fighting style she becomes a bounty hunter in the rundown Iron City whilst attempting to find out just who she was, what happened to her and where it is that she fits in this world, all whilst the rulers of both Zalem and Iron City conspire to stop Alita living up to her true potential.
Firstly I must admit that I’ve never read any of the manga that inspired the film and didn’t do any research into it before going to see it and although there are a few parts where some background lore might have helped further my understanding, I don’t believe that it is necessary that you do to enjoy the film.
The first thing you will notice about the movie is just how good it looks, the CGI is top-notch and it helps to create a world that not only feels lived in, it also feel believable that a world like this would excist, secondly is just how good Salazar is in the title role, her natural charisma carries some of the slower parts of the film and really endears you to the character of Alita.
In fact all the cast give great performances, Waltz especially, though I do feel that Connelly and Ali could have easily done with more screen time as both are excellent actors and were hardly to be seen apart from a few fleeting moments.
Alita: Battle Angel is very action heavy but Rodriguez has a history if directing great action pieces and this film is no exception, even the motorball (Think Rollerball but with robots) scenes are exciting and easy to understand what is going on, avoiding the pitfalls that the Transformers films have fallen into where it all becomes a CGI blur and you can’t really tell whats going on.
There were however a couple of minor issues with the film, firstly that there was a lot of themes, subjects and subplots squeezed into the movie, this might be because the manga source material has them, but in the film less is more and a more streamlined film might have given more time for secondary character development.
Another of the issue affecting the film was that it was setting up a lot of themes to be explored in a sequel, which depending on overseas sales we might not get, meaning that although the ending wraps up a lot and is pretty much a complete film, you don’t get that big payoff.
Finally the only other thing that affected the film was the romance side of things, with Hugo the love interest not feeling being likeable enough but his motives never really hit home, this meant that certain scenes didn’t have the emotional impact that the director was going for and sometimes felt a little forced.
Overall Alita: Battle Angel was well-directed, well acted and was enjoyable from start to finish ride that although has a few issues that you might expect from a film based on Japanese Manga, will hopefully still lead to more films set in this exciting new cinematic universe, as I for one would like to see more of Rosa Salazar as Alita.