Saturday, 20 July 2019

Alita: Battle Angel ★★★☆☆

Alita: Battle Angel, the latest film from Robert Rodriguez, is based on the original manga Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro in the ‘90s and is a sci-fi and action mash-up which will appeal to cyberpunk fans. Set in a futuristic reality after an epic war that destroyed all but one of the precious sky cities, Zalem, society is now heavily split into two peoples – the elite, that live upon Zalem enjoying life, and the ones that got left behind in Iron City, desperately trying to make it up there whilst living (quite literally) on the scraps thrown away by the superior city.

Whilst searching for spare parts, Dr Dyson Ido (Christoph WChay Clarkaltz) comes across the live remains of a cyborg, which he takes back and restores. He names her Alita (Rosa Salazar) as she has no recollection of her past life, however, she cannot stop thinking about who she might have been, especially with bad-boy-but-also-good-boy Hugo’s (Keean Johnson) intrigue and Ido’s overprotective nature playing a part. Her quest for identity comes at a price though, and she soon finds herself tangled up in far bigger things.

The premise of ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is not outstanding but it’s intriguing enough to draw one in. Unfortunately, the storytelling cannot be described as the highlight of the film – it’s tangible enough in the first half, albeit cliché, but once you get to the second half it’s hard not to notice that it’s really all just a set-up for the sequel, as a nicely wrapped-up ending just isn’t possible in two hours. This is something I’ve seen with quite a few manga-based films set in wildly different realities such as this, as there’s just so much for the audience to take in and learn and one standalone film won’t cut it. 

Despite the storyline not being as exciting as one had hoped the characters, whilst generic and again clichéd at points (in particular the evil ones) are interesting enough to follow, and Alita, in particular, is fascinating – she’s CGI, but given the warmth and emotion of a real human being which is not always seen in CGI-heavy films. It’s hard not to root for her, especially after one scene where one particularly arrogant bad guy gets proven to be an idiot (something I will always enjoy watching). 

Whilst the other characters are likeable and have plausible backstories, it really was Alita herself that had me gripped. Waltz does a very good job as Ido, as expected, and Hugo was a relatable character but highly predictable and his involvement with Alita made it all feel very YA (I’m also convinced he’s the younger version of Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The film didn’t quite seem to know who it was targeting, switching very quickly between lovestruck teenagers defying the rules and brutal cyborg battles with more than one head separating from its body.

That’s the thing that I really enjoyed about ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ though. The action is excellently done, with breath-taking CGI battles that really showcase the talent of the team behind it. Some shots were absolutely memorable – Alita swirling her way through a dozen spiked metal tentacles mid-air is one that won’t leave my mind anytime soon. It’s little touches as well, like a three-armed man at the start playing a 12-string guitar, where the use of CGI really enhances the world and creates a believable and mesmerising visual experience.

The storytelling certainly isn’t the selling point of ‘Alita: Battle Angel’, but I’m hoping that the sequel will be the remedy to that. The action and worldbuilding is a real feat though, so if those are your priorities then this one is still worth watching.

Hannah Read

Alita: Battle Angel at CeX

Get your daily CeX at

Google+ Instagram Twitter YouTube Facebook
And now Snapchat!

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl