Renowned filmmaker Robert Rodriguez teams up with producer James Cameron for Alita: Battle Angel; one of the most gorgeous and exciting action extravaganzas in years.
Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita (Rosa Salazar) is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.
For many viewers, Alita: Battle Angel will instantly feel a bit too weird and jarring for them if they have not been too exposed to anime or manga in the past, especially the Battle Angel Alita manga. If like me, you are familiar with the manga and you love it, then you may love this feature film adaptation even more. It is so rare to see a feature film of this size and scale be so unapologetically rooted in anime and have it stay so faithful to its source material. While I did greatly enjoy the 2017 Ghost in the Shell feature starring Scarlett Johansson, Alita is without a doubt the best anime to feature film adaptation of all time.
One of the biggest reasons as to why Alita: Battle Angel is such a terrific delight is because of the performance given by Rosa Salazar, who portrays the titular character. From the very first time we see her on screen, she is instantly likeable and we can follow her story and root for her all the way through the picture. She is not familiar with the world around her and seeing her discover what certain things are, such as a chocolate bar, can make for some exceptionally comedic moments.
Salazar gives her all with this performance and it definitely payed off. For the film, they used motion capture on her making Alita look like the one we know and love from the source material – a cyborg with human features. While some people will complain that the design of the titular character is too off-putting, especially with the large eyes, fans of the manga will be in love with the design. I have to respect and admire the filmmakers for putting in so much effort and care for the fans and making everything look so terrific.
Iron City additionally looks truly breathtaking and is one of the best fictional cities I have seen in a movie in years. I saw this film in IMAX 3D and these sequences, especially in a wide shot, look truly awe-inspiring. The attention to detail is also truly remarkable, and I cannot even begin to imagine how long it must have taken the crew to make everything look spot on. The city looks truly lived in and dirty which was a breath of fresh air. It makes the world around Alita look used and worn in compared to Zalem, a floating city that nearly every citizen of Iron City wants to get access to.
There are dozens of action sequences to be found throughout this picture, and they are some of the best I have seen in a long time. One scene in particular in the film involving the fictional sport motorball was genuinely exhilarating and were filled to the brim with terrific tension.
Alita: Battle Angel is an exhilarating and remarkable experience with a terrific performance from Rosa Salazar, gorgeous visuals, and a gripping story.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Running Time: 122 minutes