ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (12)
D: Robert Rodriguez
20th Century Fox/TSG/Lightstorm (James Cameron & Jon Landau)
USA 🇺🇸 2019
W: James Cameron & Laeta Kalogridis [based on the Manga series "Gunnm" created by Yukito Kishiro]
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Stephen E. Rivkin
Mus: Tom Holkenberg
PD: Calyah Eddleblute & Steve Joyner
Rosa Salazar (Alita), Christophe Waltz (Dr. Dyson Ido), Keean Johnson (Hugo), Mahershala Ali (Vector), Jennifer Connelly (Dr. Chiren), Ed Skrein (Zapan), Jackie Earle Haley (Grewishka)
Right off the bat I'm going to state that Alita: Battle Angel is a movie intended to be watched in 3D, preferably on an IMAX screen, as it quite possibly has the most impressive 3D I've ever seen, James Cameron pushing the envelope once again after the technological advancements made 10 years earlier with Avatar. Visually, this science fiction movie is a marvel to behold and it's clear to see where the vast budget was spent.
The production spent nearly 15 years in development hell, with James Cameron focused on his other projects before he handed the directorial reins to Robert Rodriguez and just retained a seat as a producer. The Cameron-Rodriguez collaboration is one which makes sense, since both filmmaker's have pedigree with big special effects action movies, and their shared vision brings this Manga property to the screen with a unique, mesmerising style.
It's not too far from the usual Cyberpunk setting, a post-Apocalyptic slum on Earth with a floating city above it, separating the Hoi Polloi from those who rule over us. In a junkyard beneath the floating city, a cyber-doctor who specialises in bionic body parts discovers the chassis of a cyborg. He brings it back to life using a body meant for his late daughter and becomes a father figure for 'Alita', who has no memory of her previous life or even her own name.
Exploring her surroundings, Alita becomes enamoured with a young man called Hugo and a sport called Motorball, and learns that the sports ultimate champion is rewarded with residence on the floating city, therefore the contenders increase their chances of victory with bionic upgrades, leading to an increase in black market crime, and the only law and order comes in the form of Hunter-Killers, bounty hunters who administer vigilante justice for their own fortune. Alita volunteers her own services as a Hunter-Killer, and uncovers corruption from higher up which runs deep through the society in which they live.
From a world-building perspective, there's an awful lot built around the central story, so it would probably be beneficial to be familiar with the original Manga property before watching, although I wouldn't consider it a pre-requisite, and the film should certainly be accessible enough for anyone who hasn't done any research beforehand.
Admittedly, the film does have some flaws, including a love interest which seems forced and leads to a couple of incredibly cheesy scenes, and the conclusion serves only to set up a sequel, which isn't always good thing for what should be a standalone adventure. The positives far outweigh any negatives though, and it really is a visual feast for your eyes to feast upon, with every frame of each scene having depth, definition and clarity which earn the right to be viewed through a pair of 3D lenses.
Award Wins & Nominations: