Saturday, March 28, 2020
MARIAH's THOUGHTS on ALITA: Battle Angel (2019)
February 14, 2019
DVD/Blu-Ray Release Date:
July 23, 2019
2 hrs 2 mins
James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis, Yukito Kishiro
Based on the manga series Gunnm by:
James Cameron, Jon Landau
20th Century Fox, Lightstorm Entertainment
20th Century Fox
Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson
From visionary filmmakers James Cameron (AVATAR) and Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY), comes ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL, an epic adventure of hope and empowerment. When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love.
Note: This review contains SPOILERS
Alita: Battle Angel (2019) offers an action packed and fun film with different themes fit for a dystopian world. The origin of the live action film is a 1990 manga series by Yukito Kishiro and for the most part the film stays true to the origins but with a few changes. For example, Dr. Daisuke Ido named the Alita after his daughter in the film, as opposed to the manga, where she was originally named after his deceased cat. Although, a little change like this may feel strange, I think it is a nice touch to get the viewer to sense Ido and Alita’s father daughter bond in the film.
If I had to focus on the technical aspects of the film, I would say that there isn’t too much to complain about. The plot of Alita: Battle Angel themes change from a journey of self-discovery to love and then into a subtle journey to change society. The film starts with Ido finding Alita’s head and torso in a scrapyard where he eventually brings her back to his cybermedic office and gives her a new body. Alita awakens in an amnesiac state, but as she meets new people and learns about the world she now lives in, she begins to solidify her own beliefs. Early in the film, Alita meets a boy named Hugo who acts as Alita’s main love interest and eventually becomes a victim that Alita needs to save. Warped by his own morality, his death helps Alita decide what her purpose in life is.
The messages themselves are very evident. For starters, at the beginning of the film Igo and Hugo introduce “Survival of the fittest,” Iron City is a lawless place where Hunter-Warriors or, in other words, bounty hunters act as a police force. Next, the dystopian world of Alita separates the elite and the dregs of society with its two disparagingly different cities, one levitating in the air named Zalem and Iron City on the ground, a clear separation of those that are highly revered and those that are dropped like trash. But something that isn’t so obvious is the themes behind Alita’s memories. Why, in a past life, did Alita and others of her build need to destroy Zalem? What was the United Republics of Mars fighting for? Probably just one nation against another, trying to get control, or maybe it’s revenge. For someone not fully familiar with the original Alita manga, I would greatly enjoy a sequel that elaborates on all of Alita’s themes.
A cyberpunk dystopia that has everything it needs to start a series, action, mystery, humanity, and sacrifice, Alita: Battle Angel delivers an entertaining anime based live action that I can get behind. A particularly fun feature within the film is Motorball, a deadly racing sport that eventually becomes an important means for Alita to get to Zalem. Maybe to some viewers, Alita: Battle Angel was too fast paced, or it didn’t fully develop its characters enough for them to care about their deaths. It is only one movie and only so much can be revealed in just two hours. I believe Alita has potential for a sequel and I would be excited to see it.