Review: Alita Battle Angel
James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez breathes new life to the classic manga/anime hybrid. Here’s my review for Alita Battle Angel. The film is now showing and distributed locally by 20th Century Fox/ Warner Bros. Pictures Philippines.
The film stars Rosa Salazar, Mahersha Ali, Christoph Waltz and Jennifer Conelly just to name a few. The film.is based on the series Battle Angel Alita or GUNM by Yukito Kishiro.
It took awhile before Cameron and company managed to get this done as its reported that they waited out for the technology to be able to flesh out Alita/Gally’s story. And they did good in the visual realm. There’s a subtle amount of world building in this film and it was a good, it was promising and I hope it won’t take a decade before we see the sequel.
The movie is packed with a lot of action scenes that makes you flinch and catches your attention. I recommend that you watch it on IMAX but if you have the budget for just the 2D or 3D, no biggie. Whether its a bar fight or an intense “rollerball” set piece, everything looks ready to break in this movie. And I’m the only film reviewer who may have this feeling that the “Alita Battle Angel” comes off as a sterilized dystopia. Everything is described as dirty and yet it looks clean. Even that fight between Alita and that huge hulking cyborg in what they describe as the “pits” looks clean.
My worry with Alita is that it was going to be a “Ghost in the Shell” kind of thing. All flair and substance but in the end, it felt lacking. I was apprehensive about letting go and enjoying the movie when we saw it. And I was clearly wrong. It definitely felt like a worthy adaptation. All the big pieces that makes the manga and the anime series was adapted neatly in this film.
The creative team behind this picture definitely showed their love for the project. Cameron was already raring to get the movie done a decade or so ago, but had to wait out the technology. Rodriguez shows his love for the title not just by going through the motions of adaptations. No. He makes sure that every movement and everything that builds to that moment is justified or has a flow. There’s a deeper sense to what we see in the screen. They also made sure that we get a deeper understanding of who Alita was through flashbacks which also sets up the possible franchise’s main villain, Nova.
I liked how they managed to do a screenplay that touches on the elements of being Alita. Her alienation and confusion. Her loyalty to her “father” Ido and her love. And while they touch on the better topics like social split and acceptance.
Of course, Alita isn’t without its faults. There were some moments that had been changed up or done slightly different. It does not hurt the overall narrative but if you’re a fan, this may make you frown a bit. There were also some moments that, by virtue of the writing, made the heroine a creepy stalker for her lover Hugo (Keean Johnson). Here’s a hint:
There’s also the issue of Alita’s eyes, which doesn’t make sense seeing that the other cyborgs and hunter killers look normal. They did get an explanation for that but still. Unsettling.
It also doesn’t know what it wants to be. Should it be strictly considered an action movie? Should it be subcategorized as a “Young Adult” film? A straight anime adaptation? Had they settled on one thing and backpedalled on the other elements, this would have been a sleeper hit. And let me just clear that statement earlier. Even action movies had romantic overtones to break the tension, but the way Alita was shot, it had all that YA vibe to it.
Lastly, can it stand on it’s own. Answer yes. Does it stand properly. Hmmmm. I say no.
Still, Alita Battle Angel was a good movie for me. It’s got promise and I promise I’d see the movie one more time before it goes bye-bye. Is it a film I would recommend? Yes. But lower your expectations because its an action flick that delivers on some parts and doesn’t on other. Catch my drift?
Special thanks to 20th Century Fox Philippines.
Alita Battle Angel is now showing!