Well if you are not a fan of the original manga Battle Angel Alita then you will be one when you get to know that James Cameron made a movie about it.
The story is an amazingly relatable concept in today’s environment as more and more female lead superhero characters are being promoted to instigate a wave of feminism into the heavily male superhero dominated industry.
This story starts in the distant future where a teenaged cyborg is found by Ido, played by two-time Oscar winner Christopher Waltz, on a huge scrap heap and slowly learns more and more about herself like who she is and who she wants to be.
This movie is an incredible work of fiction with the most incredible CGI put in a movie and it certainly had to be because it came through the people who brought us Avatar. The only downside to this amazing combination is that it pushes and pushes so much plot into one single film that there’s absolutely no room for the actual point of the story.
The main character is Alita which is played by the wonderful Rosa Salazar. Alita is an amnesiac cyborg who sees the world with an awe-struck wonderment. Christopher Waltz as Ido, helps the troubled cyborg and is the repairman who works on Alita when she is found. He later becomes her surrogate father which helps in Alita developing a moral conscience.
Ido is an impressive father figure to Alita as she strives to find her own destiny which would be free of the baggage that comes with her cyborg structural form. The troubling part for her journey is that nobody really knows or understand where she came from and how is she so advanced, and fight like the Bruce Lee of cyborgs.
The downside to having such an incredible storyline with such a star-studded cast is having too much of a story in one single movie.
Don’t believe it? Let’s see. In one single movie, Alita is investigating a serial killer, becoming a bounty hunter, falling in love, joining a deadly professional sporting league for cyborgs while uncovering the truth about her existence.
She is doing all of this while sneaking around the villain named Vector played by the Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali and his scientist Chiren played by Jennifer Connelly. Together they run the “Motorball” races and also are involved in kidnapping, mutilation, and illegal scrapping.
All these events roughly cover the first 4 volumes of the story “Battle Angel Alita”, which was not necessary as this movie has sequel strength and they didn’t have to rush it. While Laeta Kalogridis and James Cameron have been busy cramming and fitting all of the pieces of the story together to show in one film, it gives a very episodic vibe.
This is due to the fact that Alita is constantly rushing and rushing towards different plots of the story and the cut pieces are not even that properly connected as every single one of the storylines has its ending and then another piece begins after a breather, and so on.
This episodic nature of the movie is very off-putting because you genuinely feel like you are binging a Netflix series rather than enjoying a complete movie. It feels like the storylines are rushed and there isn’t a proper light shining on them to give them the importance they deserve. In a 122-minute run time, Alita is trapped in the storyline and everything feels very fast-moving without making giving proper breathing space to every individual storyline.
For example, the existential crisis in the middle of the movie in which the main character strives to find out who she is and where does she comes from is explained and resolved so quickly because it has to give way to the following action sequence, which doesn’t give proper importance to the identity crisis.
So, while sandwiching so many storylines into one film, Cameron and Laeta have taken a powerful science fiction story to more of an action-packed Hollywood blockbuster through which many viewers can relate to.
Although Alita: Battle Angel is not full of very highly intuitive and philosophical source material, it is still an amazing James Cameron Production with outstanding CGI for days. Much like how he introduced us with a new world in Avatar, he has outdone himself in creating a new world full of detailed graphics and elements that help us appreciate the experience even more.
There are properly crafted cybernetic citizens that bring amazing futuristic vibes to the film and you know Cameron brings his A-game when working on new locations and he doesn’t disappoint anyone in this new iteration of his line of graphical masterpieces.
The world that we see is full of realistic and over the top graphical implementation that properly complements the fiction storytelling of this amazing piece. When you see that world you immediately fall in a state of awe and magical wonderment that only amazing storytelling can cast over you.
The most spectacular element of this movie apart from the outstandingly crafted world is the stellar performance of Rosa Salazar. Although she is assisted by CGI limbs and artificially enhanced eyes, she makes us fall in love with Alita’s human side as she deals with a spiritual identity investigation with which many of us can truly relate.
An amazing thing about Alita’s human side is that we get to see her innocent teenage vibe grow strong and powerful as she learns more and more about herself until her warrior’s shell is fully complete. When that happens, we see some very powerful attributes of a young girl battling her way through all of the issues and enemies the world throws at her but with a slight edge in her favor, she has a badass cyborg structure.
The love story between Alita and her boyfriend is a welcoming touch to the scrap wasteland the story resides in with their couple scenes having all of the tenderness elements of a sweet Young Adult adaptation.
Another major aspect of the story is the relationship of Ido with Alita, but if compared to some of the other roles he has done in movies before this, Christopher Waltz’s character gets sidelined with half the film’s constant explanation, so we don’t get to see more of his character explored. Ido is Alita’s mentor, father, professor, doctor/ repairman, and conscience, just to name a few of the connections he has with Alita.
To no one’s surprise, Christopher Waltz gives a stellar performance while playing the part of Ido and the fact that one of the most serious actors in the industry wields a gigantic rocket-powered pickaxe, is a sight you don’t want to miss.
This amazing film is a proper challenge for the amazing director Robert Rodriguez, who spent most of his career opposing the studio system of movies to spend big budgets on movies and favored low budget storytelling from the heart with imaginative projects that were independent in nature.
But despite his reservations, he certainly knows how to make a movie that can be a Hollywood blockbuster with the elements of small heart-to-heart storytelling, as he shows us in the amazing film.
Another exciting thing about Robert’s direction is that his flair for unconventionality and taste for extreme fight sequences makes this amazing film a noteworthy attempt to produce something new and fresh in a world full of Avatar’s and Avengers where many of the CGI spectacle films often don’t get recognized and seem homogenized.
Although Alita: Battle Angel, unfortunately, doesn’t reach the emotional and thematic level of the incredible manga, it is still an incredible attempt to bring Yukito Kishiro’s work into the cinematic environment.
The filmmaker has attempted to put as much of the manga he could on the silver screen but that only took off the spotlight from individual storylines and their importance as depicted in the manga. The importance of the smaller elements in the manga is also missing which gives the bigger more amazing incidents a greater meaning. But hey, everything CGI and action-packed is incredibly cool in the movie.
Alita: Battle Angel is Robert’s best film in many years, and it had to be when it included the artistic vision of James Cameron. It’s an incredibly phenomenal and visually spectacular production that is filled with great performances that actually make the post-apocalyptic world seem real.
The downside to all of these amazing things and a colossal storyline in one film is that it takes the focus off of the key elements that made the manga so powerful and it also chucks out the incredible commentary that made the character of Alita so intimidating and commanding in the first place.
This is a film that has been widely accepted as an IMAX spectacle with amazing effects that give more power to the film and its characters. But it’s not up to scale and doesn’t do justice to the manga’s deep-rooted storytelling and it might just end up being a sleepover entertainment piece for 13-year-olds. This is because of the fact that it genuinely lacks the challenging and intriguing aspects of a film that attracts older audiences.
But hey, if you want to see some stellar performances by amazing actors presenting you with a story depicted in some of the amazing cinematic environments, under the supervision of the team that brought the world Avatar, then you should definitely watch it.
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