Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

alita battle angel poster 2019 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10


Crammed a lot in, dragged out ending, not enough character development

Movie Info

Movie Name: Alita:  Battle Angel

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  January 31, 2019 (Premiere)/February 14, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

alita battle angel dr ido christoph waltz rose salazar

Alright! Free kid!!!

Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) has discovered something unique in the garbage dropped from Zalem…a humanoid cyborg with an intact brain.  Alita (Rosa Salazar) is reborn, but has no memories of her past or how she ended up in the junk pile.  Discovering a new world, Alita befriends a boy named Hugo (Keean Johnson), but soon learns that all is not safe in the city.  Hunters patrol the towns, and a dangerous sport called Motorball could be the only means to reach Zalem.  Alita must regain her memories if she hopes to survive and could become a leader if she does.

Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Alita:  Battle Angel is a sci-fi action thriller produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau.  In development hell for years, the movie adapts the Battle Angel Alita manga by Yukito Kishiro which ran from 1990 to 1995 in Business Jump and an anime was released in 1993.  The film was met with mixed reviews but a strong box office.

Alita looked a little too cool.  The live action transfer of manga works don’t always seem to work and the flash and odd storytelling doesn’t convert well.  I wasn’t familiar with the manga, but Alita:  Battle Angel does feel like a lot of flash with so-so amount of substance.

alita battle angel cyborg

I call him…Knifey-Knifeface!

The story has a Pinocchio feel.  Alita essentially desires to be “a real girl” and doesn’t always listen to “father” Dr. Ido.  I think that if that had been the theme of the whole film, it might have been kind of compelling (A.I. tried it however, and it didn’t necessarily work).  The story has this idea brewing underneath the plot, but is largely filled with Alita fighting enemies rather easily…it doesn’t feel that Alita is in much danger for most of the film.  I do think her relationship with Hugo and where that goes is a little surprising, but that storyline drags near the end.

The cast is pretty good even if they don’t get to do much in the film.  Christoph Waltz is good playing a good guy without a dark side for once, and genuinely seems committed to his role.  Rosa Salazar also isn’t bad as the optimistic Alita, but Keean Johnson isn’t very distinctive as her love interest.  Both Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelly are criminally underused as character without much direction and Jackie Earle Haley, Ed Skrein, Jaff Fahey, Casper Van Dien, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jai Courtney have roles as cyborgs.  The movie also features a cameo by Edward Norton which sets up a film sequel.

alita battle angel motorball rose salazar

Alita plays Rollerball

The special effects work in the context of the movie, but they really don’t do much new.  Alita (with her giant doe eyes) isn’t bad, but the cyborgs just look rather generic like something out of a video game.  It seems like it could be better and bigger at this point (especially with Cameron involved).

Alita:  Battle Angel is rather generic, but it does show potential.  The movie keeps moving even if the end gets a bit drawn out.  The movie crams a lot into it and it feels like (with plans of sequels), the filmmakers could have drawn out some areas a bit longer to develop characters and solidify the plot.  With relatively strong numbers, Alita will probably fly again.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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