Review – Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Holy crap, the CGI, guys.

Initially, I had only heard James Cameron produced Alita: Battle Angel, and I knew little else. I didn’t know he actually wrote part of it until after the fact, so it’s safe to say I was cautiously optimistic on how this film would turn out. You never know when it’s just a producer. Sure, some people actively produce, but other individuals finance a movie and do nothing else, rewarding them of the title “producer”, and eventually getting a return investment with whatever profit the film did or did not make. I don’t fully trust the title of producer. But, it does turn out that he wrote part of the screenplay, and I trust his writing more than I trust a producer credit. So, what’s this movie about?

“…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.”

20th Century Fox

I guess the very first thing that you notice when watching the movie is undoubtedly the visuals, particularly with the CGI, which is some of the best I’ve seen in a while. Had Alita’s eyes been naturally shaped, I would have thought she was live-action. In fact, I had originally and mistakenly thought that the film was fully-CGI. Even while watching, I had to google if it was just so good that the live action was actually CGI. Nope, nope, nope. She’s the only fully CGI character. It’s just that close to real life that it actually had me second-guessing what was real and what wasn’t. We truly are in the future now. Apart from the CGI, the motion-capture, the cinematography, and editing were all very, very impressive on almost all counts.

The character of Alita, and the innocence that surrounds her is honestly refreshingly alluring. The way her character interacts with the world and the characters around her is always a joy to experience and watch, even if the story itself isn’t always there, which by the way, is probably the main negative I have to say about the movie – the story…or perhaps the narrative…falls victim to the adaptation curse. The adaptation curse, of course, is when a project is based off of a book, or in this case, an anime, and they try to cram a lot of material in one movie – and you can tell. For me, I noticed specifically when it came to verbiage, exposition, and pacing.

When you ask what the movie is about, that’s when things get…a little tricky. It’s about Alita discovering who she used to be, it’s about the power-hungry struggle of a political dictator, yet there’s very little focus on the political side of things especially when it comes to their motivations, which seems to be nothing, and if there is a motivation, I missed it, and if I missed it, so can a lot of others. You may enjoy what’s physically happening on screen, but it’s connection to a bigger picture isn’t always very clear.

And you will enjoy what’s happening on screen. You will. It’s a very enjoyable film with a lot of impressive action sequences that’ll have your eyes glued to the movie, but that’s not everything, right? That’s not the most important thing in the world when it comes down to it. At the end of the day, this is the type of movie that tried probably a little too hard to impliment a lot of ideas found in the source material, turning into something technically a bit sloppy, but is still enjoyable when it comes to the action sequences and sheer beauty in the CGI models of our title character.

TOTAL SCORE – 77%

Current 2019 Rankings:
Overall – 9th place out of 43 movies
Science Fiction – 6th place out of 13 movies
Adventure – 5th place out of 12 movies
Action – 4th place out of 14 movies
Thriller – 4th place out of 15 movies

Other science fiction films rated 77%:
Suicide Squad
Mad Max: Fury Road
Terminator Genisys
Robocop (2014)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
The Terminator

Specs:
PEOPLE SCORE (16/20)
Acting (2/4) | Characters (3/4) | Casting (4/4) | Importance (3/4) | Chemistry (4/4)
WRITING SCORE (7/10)
Dialogue (1/2) | Balance (1/2) | Story Depth (1/2) | Originality (2/2) | Interesting (2/2)
BTS SCORE (9/10)
Visuals (2/2) | Cinematography (2/2) | Editing (2/2) | Advertising (2/2) | Music & Sound (1/2)
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE (7/10)
Introduction (2/2) | Inciting Incident (0/2) | Obstacles (1/2) | Climax (2/2) | Resolution (2/2)
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE (8/10)
Rewatchability (2/2) | Fun Experience (2/2) | Impulse to Buy or Own It (1/2) | Impulse to Talk About or Recommend It (1/2) | Engaging & Riveting (2/2)
SPECIALTY SCORE (30/40)
James Cameron (5/10) | Action (10/10) | Adaptation (5/10) | Halfway Decent (10/10)

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