Action Adventure

Review: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Marks the Start of a Promising New Franchise

February 11, 2019Ferdosa Abdi

It seems like a lifetime ago when James Cameron acquired the rights to Yukito Kishiro's popular manga, Battle Angel Alita, but now director Robert Rodriguez has finally brought it to the big screen in spectacular fashion.

Set far in the future, Alita: Battle Angel follows the cyborg Alita (Rosa Salazar), who is salvaged and rebuilt by Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz). Taken under his wing, Alita discovers the strange yet familiar world for the first time and is mesmerized by all that is around her. But soon she grows restless and becomes determined to know who she once was, with the movie ultimately telling the story of Alita rediscovering her warrior roots.

Despite a juvenile script, pacing issues and an abrupt cliffhanger of an ending, Alita is a dynamic and entertaining experience — an experience made better by Salazar's dazzling performance as the titular CGI character. Although Salazar is backed by a great supporting cast, the film rests solely on her shoulders, and she delivers.

The technical achievements on display here are outstanding and must be seen to be believed. A completely CGI creation is made to feel as real and alive as any human. Alita may have a very human brain and a mechanical heart, but she is as human as it gets; and the character is shockingly more believable as a teenage girl than other recent young-adult action heroines. Suffice to say, Salazar puts much heart into her motion-capture and voice work to evoke the innocence of Alita and her evolution to becoming the warrior she was always meant to be.

That said, the story by Cameron, Rodriguez and Laeta Kalogridis is not by any means bad; it is just undermined by poor pacing and a lack of ambition. It is certainly a great start to a potential franchise, but what this movie needs is for it to feel like a complete story, rather than a prelude to a greater tale. Some tightening of the pacing and an additional 10 minutes added to the end could have made this a much more satisfying and complete story rather than the beginning of an exciting new series. Yet, the visual effects and Salazar's performance are so incredible that it almost makes these flaws forgivable.

When all is said and done, Alita: Battle Angel is a delightful romp about a cyborg girl falling in love and finding her place in a mesmerizing, futuristic world. It has the potential to be an extraordinary series, and if this does receive a followup, the sequel will have ample creative material to work with.

Alita: Battle Angel releases February 13th, 2019 from 20th Century Fox. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 2 min.

You May Also Like