An action-packed story of one young woman’s journey to discover the truth of who she is and her fight to change the world.
Set in a dystopian apocalyptic future (is there any other?!), ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is a fun adaptation of a successful manga that works better when focusing on action and special effects than it perhaps does when focusing on its characters. It stars Christoph Waltz as a scientist called Dr. Ido, who we first meet as he discovers a damaged female cyborg amidst the junkyards of Iron City, a large metropolis feeling the after effects of a catastrophic war. He takes the parts back to his laboratory and rebuilds the cyborg, naming her Alita after his deceased daughter, and from this point onwards the film switches focus to her character as she is introduced to the world of Iron City. The plot of the film centres on Alita trying to find out about her past whilst finding herself involved in a present day conspiracy involving a large, seemingly more advanced city that hovers above Iron City and the sport of Motorball, a violent battle royale where cyborgs fight to the death
Alita is played by actress Rosa Salazar in a performance that is part motion capture CGI and part natural performance and the character has the look of an anime character brought to life. It worked for me, and served as a reminder that Alita is not entirely human, and it contrasts interestingly with the majority of the other (human) characters. Salazar’s lead performance is strong and the film has fun support from the likes of Mahershala Ali, Waltz and Jackie Earle Haley as characters she encounters at various points. The film is written and produced by James Cameron and the material is very much in his wheelhouse, even as the script and narrative often falls into bad habits of being overly expositional and occasionally muddled. On the positive side, the action sequences are really good, utilising special effects well alongside the individual ‘features’ of the characters/cyborgs involved, and I was entertained throughout.
‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is an enjoyable manga adaptation with fast paced action, set in an immersive futuristic world, but it does occasionally get bogged down by its own story which isn’t as compelling as it should be. I’d be happy to watch a sequel, which seems unlikely given the current box office take, but this is another potentially excellent film negatively hindered by the desire to set up story strands for a second film that may never come.
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connolly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Michelle Rodriguez, Keean Johnson, Eiza Gonzalez, Lana Condor, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Idara Victor and Casper Van Dien