I wasn’t a big fan of the trailers for “Alita: Battle Angel”. It looked like one big, expensive video game. Needless-to-say, my expectations weren’t high. Let me start off with this. If you love fun, action filled, science fiction, this is one film that you won’t want to miss (on the biggest screen possible). Even if you felt the same way about the marketing material I did, I highly recommend you shell out your $18 (or how ever much a large-format movie ticket costs at your local theater) and take in the epic beauty of “Alita: Battle Angel”.
As the story opens, we see Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) walking through the mountains of trash dumped from a floating city above, scavenging for whatever he can use to repair his cyborg patients. Of course, he comes across a robotic female head that just so happens to have a human brain in side. He brings the head back to his office and attaches it to a robotic body, Alita (Rosa Salazar) is born.
Alita (whom is named by Ido) can’t remember anything from her past, but the Doctor obviously knowns more about what she is than he leads on. She has the reflexes of a warrior which we first see when she has a run-in with her almost instant love interest, Hugo (Keean Johnson). The budding relationship between Alita and Hugo is one of the least interesting aspects of the film, but it’s incredibly difficult not to feel for the title character. Salazar who’s performance is entirely motion capture is wonderful. Alita does look artificial, especially with those big eyes, but she has such an endearing presence. I fell in love with her very early on. This is important because much of the weight rests on Salazar. If she couldn’t pull it off, this could have been a complete failure.
“Alita: Battle Angel” is not perfect, far from it. The writing is not very good, but an improvement over “Avatar”. But much like “Avatar”, Cameron has delivered a stunning new world. There is even beauty in the decay. As for the villain, Mahershala Ali is simply fine, but not all that interesting, not even when his mind is being hijacked by his mysterious boss to deliver messages. Jennifer Connelly is also fine as Ido’s ex-wife and Vector collaborator, Chiren, but her character lacks much interest as well.
“Alita: Battle Angel” is most fun when Alita is fighting various cyborg hunters, and there is plenty of fighting action, but it never feels like it’s overdone. This is supposed to be the first film in a franchise, so as the story closes, we are left with many questions. The biggest one being, will this nearly $200-million-dollar epic be able to make enough money for us to see the rest of the story? I hope so.
By: Marc Ferman