by Douglas Montgomery II
Alita Battle Angel was originally a Japanese cyberpunk anime series. Alita has also been a long time dream project of director James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic, Aliens, Terminator), who ultimately ended up as producer of the just released movie version. Directing chores went to Robert Ridriguez (Sin City, Predators, and Kill Bill: Volume 2). Starring Rosa Salazar as Alita, Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ido, Jennifer Connelly as Chiren, Keean Johnson as Hugo, and Mahershala Ali as Vector. Alita Battle Angel, the live-action adaptation has been stuck in development for some time, along with many production delays, but it has finally hit theaters. The result is a mixture of faithful to the original anime property for fans, but missing that human interaction connection for general audiences.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future and follows a cyborg (Alita) who is found in a garbage dump by a doctor who rebuilds her and brings her back to life. Suffering from memory loss, Alita connects to who she is/was via a long lost martial art form used by military style cyborgs many years prior. As time progresses, she eventually achieves full knowledge of her past and what she must now do given the current state of things. All of this works well, but the movie suffers a bit because human connections seem to take a back seat to all the stunning visual and practical effects at work. So audiences are somewhat forced to except the emotional connections between the doctor who discovered her, and her new found friend Hugo. It’s not that emotional connections don’t exist, but they happened to quickly, and you just have to accept it and go along for the ride.
Now make no mistake, Alita Battle Angel is an action-packed ride, with well crafted action sequences, some awesome martial arts fighting, and great visual eye candy. In fact, the action, fighting, and visual effects are so good you can overlook some of the human emotion connections that’s missing. At least that’s what I did. And if you just accept Alita as a live-action, 3-D animated action/fantasy movie, you’ll enjoy this movie. And I must say as fantastic as the visuals and action was, the bar wasn’t really moved. I mean Avatar this is not. I saw Alita in IMAX 3-D, and honestly I don’t feel it was necessary. I would have been just as satisfied seeing this movie in Dolby cinema. So I advise do not spend the extra money for 3-D.
Dr. Dyson (Watlz) was a great character with some great moments with Alita. But Chiren (Connelly), and Vector (Ali) both good characters with potential, but they don’t really get enough time to stand out. Ali’s bad guy Vector in particular, just wasn’t given enough to be the villain I was looking forward to seeing him be, and this was especially disappointing for anyone looking to see Ali sink his acting chops into a wicked, evil character, much like he did as Cottonmouth in the NetFlix Marvel series Luke Cage.
For genre fans and anime fans you’ll probably like Alita, however, I don’t think general audiences will fully enjoy and appreciate this movie. So, if you want an action movie with a deep thought-provoking message, where you feel something for the characters on an emotional level then I would not recommend this movie to you. Now, If you’re looking to see some good special effects, intense action, and some martial arts fighting then check this movie out! If you’re a fan of anime, check Alita out! Just want to see a plain old action flick, then go check out Alita Battle Angel! Alita Battle Angel is playing in theaters now!