Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Movie Review

Deactivated female cyborg Alita is found by cyber-doctor Ido. When Alita discovers that she cannot remember any of her past life, she goes on a quest to find out who she is.

Contains some spoilers…

Based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga series Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita), the 2019 movie is a highly anticipated project of writer James Cameron, who had to delay Alita since 2003 due to his work with Avatar. Combining similar technology as seen in Avatar, Alita: Battle Angel brings reality and CGI together in a magnificent way.

Christoph Waltz, who plays Dr. Dyson Ido, recently shared in an interview that the movie “is real but it is an enhanced reality.” Waltz said, “I’ve never seen anything like it, I’ve never done anything like it and it is an experience that you most likely will not have had ever in your life before. It works on an intellectual level, it works on an emotional level. It’s a love story, an adventure story… action, violence…”

Was he right? Was he wrong? Let’s take a look:

SCORE

Story: 9 – It’s a story we think we’ve seen before. But every twist and turn kept me on the edge of my seat. The whole flow of the story was well done. I enjoyed seeing each act unfold as we experience Alita go through the storyline but you just don’t know who to trust, which leads to:

Characters: 9 – The characters were very interesting and intriguing… from Jennifer Connelly as Chiren (ex-wife of Christoph Waltz’s Dr. Ido) to Zapan, the cyborg bounty hunter. We don’t get to see much in the trailer for obvious reasons, and I think it’s to protect the excitement of these character reveals. With the world in the state that it’s in, Alita’s carefree innocence makes us question other characters’ allegiance. This made the characters deeply dynamic. And Alita herself was a pleasant surprise, played by Rosa Salazar (pre-CGI). As the main character and as a computer-generated one, at that, a lot of this movie’s success banks on the believability of this character. Was she compelling? Was she exciting? Do we care? For me, yes. And can we believe that Alita is present on-screen interacting with the live-action actors? Well…

Visuals: 9 – I read that the post-production graphics were done by Weta Digital, DNEG and Framestore, who have worked on hit movies such as Avatar, I Robot, Blade Runner 2049, Inception, Harry Potter, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. So you can get a sense of what to expect when you watch Alita! It’s the future, it’s dystopia, and it’s visually stunning. I got to watch this movie in Dolby 3D and while some movies can do without the 3D effect, Alita was pretty fun to watch in 3D! To see the depth of the graphics and how Alita seems so real beside Christoph Waltz… The editors and producers call it an augmented animation hybrid. It was very important that as they built this new environment of Iron City from the ground up, everything had to be photo real – a seamless blend of live action and synthetic action. Beautifully executed.

Action: 9 – Another clear aspect that was advertised in the trailer above was the action & adventure sequences. It even features the original manga’s “gravity defying” martial arts that Alita uses. You just don’t boast this kind of technology – intertwining graphics with live-action – and not have something actively driving the movie. And just as Christoph Waltz mentioned above, it does indeed have equal parts action & love. Just wait until you see the bar scene!

Music: 9 – I’m particularly excited about this. Depending on where you look, the credit may go to one “Tom Holkenborg”. But you may know him as Junkie XL! In film, he’s best known for working on soundtracks like The Dark Knight Rises, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, and Justice League. He’s also contributed to Deadpool and Mad Max: Fury Road. His work in Alita was well done and tied the whole dystopian theme together!

Overall: 9

Everything was pretty solid and I had an awesome time watching Alita: Battle Angel. With James Cameron’s writing and Robert Rodriguez’ directing, we get a gritty cinematic adventure. You really forget to think about what’s real and what’s not.

Even with the inclusion of a sport/game (which oftentimes is movie suicide), Motor Ball was actually essential to the development of the story and character arcs. Bottom line, Alita: Battle Angel is a great mix of excitement and heart. I may have walked in with little expectation but regardless, this movie really brought something new to the table.

And for those that are curious, Alita does not have a post-credits scene.

Alita: Battle Angel is rated PG-13 with a running time of 122 minutes and hits theaters February 14, 2019.

Directed by Robert Rodriguez.

Starring Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, and Mahershala Ali.

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