‘Alita: Battle Angel’- Flawed But Overwhelmingly Fun

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Stills and imagery courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

I had the privilege of seeing the World Premiere of Alita: Battle Angel last night in London. Not only did I get to experience my first blue-carpet (in the freezing cold, might I add) but I also got to experience the film after a brief introduction from the legendary filmmakers themselves: James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez and Jon Landau.

So today I thought I would give you a brief review of the film itself without diving into the dangerous territory of spoilers. If you are unsure about what Alita is about, here is the official synopsis of the manga adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel.

From visionary filmmakers James Cameron (AVATAR) and Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY), comes ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL, an epic adventure of hope and empowerment. When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love.

Stills and imagery courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

The film itself was as spectacular as you would imagine. James Cameron and the entire team went above and beyond for this film. The visuals were just stunning, particularly for Alita, played by Rosa Salazar who is, without a doubt, the highlight of the film. The entire world that was crafted was absolutely beautiful. With towering futuristic blocks and old fashioned buildings, Alita offers a world from multiple periods with aspects from various countries as they all merge to form the treacherous Iron City. As an action movie lover, my jaw dropped at some of the fight scenes and the Motorball chases. They were quick, well paced, beautifully animated, and exciting. Whether it was the fighting style from Alita or the crushing of metal in the Motorball arena, Alita: Battle Angel delivers a heart pumping ride that cannot be missed in cinema. What also helped were the unique designs of the various cyborgs that were all interesting to look at in their own way. Zappan was probably my favourite since his design was just awesome with a Aztec vibe to it. There was also a cowboy cyborg with robot dogs- how cool is that?

I’m incredibly passionate about movie soundtracks and my eyes lit up when I saw that Tom Holkenborg was doing the soundtrack for Alita. For the action scenes, Tom’s soundtrack takes Alita to a whole new level. If you loved Wonder Woman’s theme in Batman v Superman and the epic soundtrack that came from Mad Max: Fury Road then you’ll absolutely love what Alita has to offer.

In terms of characters, the film focuses primarily on Alita’s relationship with Ido, the scientist who put Alita back together, and with Hugo, Alita’s eventual love interest. The relationship between Ido and Alita is a lot more captivating as he is the one that teaches her how to live in her new body and a very sweet father and daughter relationship blossoms, with the occasional twist here and there. The biggest problem for me was the rushed relationship between Hugo and Alita. While the film establishes that Alita is on the hunt for answers concerning who she is and where she came from, there is too much focus on the romance between the cyborg and Hugo that it is almost as though Alita forgets her true intentions. However, some very nice and touching scenes came from the two love birds as Hugo introduced Alita to life in Iron City. The love story is almost redeemed by the fish out of water approach to Alita which is very innocent. She has two people, who clearly care about her, teaching her two very different things. While one holds her back due to fear, the other wishes to see Alita spread her wings. This does create a nice dynamic between the characters that allows Alita to adopt lessons from both Ido and Hugo in order to create a new identity that is rebellious, charming, and compassionate.

Stills and imagery courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Alita: Battle Angel may not be a perfect film but it is an incredible spectacle. While some cheesy dialogue, an inevitable love story that felt rushed, and characters that felt undeveloped like Jennifer Connelly’s Dr Chiren, holds the film back, there are many things to love, such the world building which is incredibly interesting, the visuals of the postapocalypic future, the various robot designs that are detailed and bizarre, the charming nature of Alita, the music, and the multiple action scenes that will have you glued to the screen. What Alita: Battle Angel lacks in story and character, is immediately redeemed by the immersive and exciting world that was created. Considering the anime and manga adaptations that have been released by Hollywood, this is definitely a step in the right direction. While I am sure that some people may not enjoy it as much as I did, I am certain that many will have an equally exciting time watching Alita: Battle Angel.

Alita: Battle Angel is due out in the United States on February  14th and on the 6th in the United Kingdom.