“Alita: Battle Angel” puts the pedal to the metal
Views 14 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 3 - 19 - 2019 | By: Craig Odenwald
A massive city looms over a lonely scrapyard. Sparks spill out across a coliseum. Cyborgs challenge one another to trials of combat. Welcome to the world of “Alita: Battle Angel.”
Full of action and spectacular visuals, “Alita: Battle Angel” is an entertaining ride into a new and exciting universe. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron, “Alita” draws heavily from the source material of the manga “Gunmn” by Yukito Kishiro and is an adaptation of the first two volumes of the manga. The film tells the story of a cyborg named Alita who has a human brain in a machine body. As she struggles to find out who she is, she also feels destined to fight—perhaps in the dangerous Motorball arena, where fellow cyborgs race to the death for a grand prize.
One of the best parts of the film is Alita herself. Rose Salazar gives a unique motion-capture performance as Alita, portraying the cyborg’s first days of life with aplomb. Salazar balances the innocence of a newly-born being with the determination of a hero, making her a worthy protagonist to root for. Of course, the most oft-mentioned aspect of “Alita: Battle Angel” leading up to its release was the large eyes created for the Alita character. While startling at first, the eyes become easier to adjust to as the film goes on because Salazar is given a vast gamut of emotions to express across the CGI face.
Of her co-stars, Christopher Waltz’s Doctor Dyson Ido and Ed Skrein’s Sapan shine. Waltz provides a great human counterpart to Alita as a mentor who struggles with a broken past. On the side of the antagonists, Skrein’s Sapan is the clear favorite. He’s a cyborg swordsman with swagger, a quality the other villains could have used. The mastermind orchestrating the film’s events, Doctor Nova, is only seen at the end of the film. In the meantime, he possesses the mind of Marsheral Ali’s character, Vector, to intimidate the henchmen working with him to stop Alita. Somehow, it makes both villains seem less intimidating.
As the film is based off of two volumes of a larger story, elements of “Alita: Battle Angel” could leave audiences with more questions than answers. The romantic subplot of the film becomes intermingled with Alita’s quest for understanding of who she is. When those two storylines are added on top of her desire to compete in Motorball, the story can get messy. But the action in “Alita: Battle Angel” more than makes up for it. It eschews typical pyrotechnics for fighting on wheels, creating a number of electric, heart-pounding sequences. At the crux of that action is Alita’s quest for humanity, tying down some of the more out-of-place story elements for a refreshingly human tale. “Alita: Battle Angel” may bite off more than it can chew, but it definitely leaves the audience wanting more.