I Finally Watched Alita: Battle Angel
Updated: May 4, 2020
I went from having zero desire to absolutely LOVING this movie.
I remember watching the trailer for Alita: Battle Angel in the movie theater and I couldn't roll my eyes any further in the back of my head. I know nothing about the original manga and the trailer seemed so generic and unconvincing. I fully admit to being super judgmental. I got Ready Player One vibes from the trailer and that movie was all kinds of "meh" for me. But boy was I wrong about Alita: Battle Angel.
Alita: Battle Angel was such a pleasant surprise. One thing that's hard to miss is how big Alita's eyes are. I feared her eyes wouldn't translate but the second we see Alita wake up after Dr. Ido puts her together. But I have to say I really didn't notice her eyes at all. Weta Digital was given the task of bringing Alita to life and their work is impeccable.
The fight scenes in this movie were another favorite thing of mine. We find out that Alita was once a berzerker cyborg and around the time the movie takes place she's over 300 years old. She starts out not knowing who she is or where she came from. She eventually finds out and they don't dwell on her not knowing too long either. It was nice to see her skills as a soldier kick in as an instinct when she's faced with life or death scenarios. She starts at the beginning of the movie very innocent but as she starts to get her memories and skills back, we she her mature quite quickly. And when she fights, she's an absolute badass. She executes
One thing I was really captivated by is the design of everything. I know Iron City is supposed to look like a slum, but it was still aesthetically pleasing and I loved the hustle and bustle of it. Back in April, my husband and I got to travel to Taipei, Taiwan to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. One of the things we got to do was check out a few street markets. The narrow roads with stalls and small businesses lining the streets is quite similar to what we see in the movie. I imagine the ones in Japan are similar as well. I love how the vehicles in the movie are modified to fit in the tiny streets of Iron City. I love the beaten up look to the vehicles while still looking futuristic. To me, the vehicles, especially the one that we see Hugo riding in on, were freaking cool.
Speaking of Hugo, the romantic set up between him and Alita was obvious from the beginning but I didn't have any qualms with how their relationship was handled. Like I said, even though Alita is over 300 years old, she's still very much a teenager. In most cases, teenagers in film/television don't typically exhibit intelligent behavior. There are moments where Hugo and even Alita exhibit emotional or rash behavior. However, it's written in such a way that it doesn't come across too much as "stupid teenager". For example: Alita rashly walks into the a bar of Hunger Cyborgs and tries to recruit everyone in there to fight back against Zalem and intentionally antagonizes Zapan, one of the top bounty hunters. I'd say that's pretty bold, and perhaps reckless. But for a berserker, maybe not. If I were Alita, I'd probably gain some new found confidence in taking on an entire bare full of deadly bounty hunters. Side note: she ends up kicking EVERYONE'S ass effortlessly and flawlessly which is another bonus for me in this movie. Because she's designed to be the most lethal cyborg, she doesn't really make tactical mistakes -- no one can do real damage to her-- and that's bad ass. Okay, back on track. My point is that emotional decisions the characters make aren't random. There's always a reason for why the do it and it's not because they're "stupid" or "dumb". She still very much has a teen vibe but it's not annoying like from Power Rangers or Ready Player One. I truly admire that.
I didn't realize Christoph Waltz was in this movie as Dr. Igo. It was nice to see him in a role where he wasn't the villain (even though he's fantastic at that). There are subtle story telling decisions they make so show how well respected and loved Dr. Igo is in Iron City. For example, in the beginning of the movie you see that he doesn't charge cyborgs for repairs. This obviously impacts him financially when his assistant brings up their looming financial problems. But when Alita takes on the bar full of Hunter Cyborgs and Dr. Igo shows up to stop her from getting herself killed, he initially helps but enough is enough and he finally tells everyone to stop fighting or he won't fix any cyborg for free anymore. Every cyborg in there stops fighting and backs off. In that moment, it's funny and a simple way to progress the story, but it also tells the audience that these ruthless Hunter Cyborgs have so much respect for Dr. Igo. I love nuances like that in tv and/or film and this is just one of many in Alita: Battle Angel.
All the negative tropes I thought would happen in this movie didn't, and it was so refreshing. The only question I have left is when's the sequel? Because during the whole movie I was waiting for Alita to go to Zalem to meet Nova and beat his ass! Obviously the movie ends right before she's most likely going to be the next Motorball champion so we can assume she's headed to Zalem. Either way, I wanna see for myself.
If you've seen Alita: Battle Angel I'd love to know your thoughts! Have you read Gunnm, the manga that the movie is based off of? Spill the deets!