Review: Alita: Battle Angel

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A 300 year old cyborg assassin reigns supreme in an epic action movie that is unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Alita: Battle Angel follows the story of a cyborg who learns of her action filled past when she wakes up in a new body created by Dr Dyson Ido. The renowned scientist who is popular with the citizens of Iron City also leads a second life as a Hunter-Warrior, a very skilled bounty hunter.

Set in 2563, the film takes place in Iron City. After the Earth is devastated by a cataclysmic war known as “The Fall”, those who survived rebuild their lives in the new metropolis. We first meet Dr Ido, a man clearly interested in technology. He scouts and searches the junkyard and finds a female cyborg. Despite being completely disembodied, she still has a fully intact human brain. The doctor takes the cyborg and rebuilds her using her old parts from his shop. The cyborg wakes, holding no memory of her past. So Dr Ido gives her the name “Alita”.

And from here, the narrative well and truly builds. From fast-paced royale races to intense fight sequences that are just stunning to watch, Alita: Battle Angel becomes unlike any movie you’ve seen before.

It’s directed by Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Sin City), with James Cameron acting as a writer and producer. The film was originally announced in 2003 but due to the success of Avatar and Cameron’s continuous work on its sequels, production was continuously delayed. After 13 years, Rodriguez was finally named director in April 2016 and the film had its premiere at the ODEON Leicester Square at the end of January.

Thoughts?

It certainly deserves praise for its visual effects. Knowing the film was produced by Cameron, the visual effects were sure to be nothing less than brilliant. The fast-paced action sequences are spellbinding to watch. The Motorball scenes were insane and you were totally transported into the events on screen. My only complaint would be that there was sometimes too much happening on screen so you couldn’t focus. And they definitely work effectively to draw you away from the bumpy narrative.

At times, the story just couldn’t keep up with the pace of the special effects. At times, attention drawn to the relationship between Alita and her prospective love interest Hugo was cringey to watch. Plus, it almost felt like the narrative was very random and a little bit unconventional at certain moments. There just wasn’t enough elaboration on elements such as how Vector became the host for Nova or the backstory with Ido and Chiren. If a sequel was to take place in the future, perhaps these issues could be explored in more detail.

For a film that was 13 years in the making, it was undoubtedly worth the wait. The only way to describe the special effects would be epic. The storyline, based on the Japanese manga Gunnm, is unlike anything seen on screens before. It’s completely exhilarating and exciting to watch. With a sequel supposedly in the works, I’m intrigued to see how the battle between Nova and Alita continues.