Alita: Battle Angel
- Gist: Dystopic cyberpunk sci-fi action tale, based on a famous ’90’s manga, about a girl who is only a brain in a cybernetic body who has a mysterious ability to kick ass.
- Dismemberments: 60+. By far the coolest thing about robot bodies is that you can repeatedly rip off people’s arms and legs and, hey, what’s the real harm? Plus many variations on sincere “I’ll use your head for a basketball!” threats.
- CGI: Another step forward, a completely animated lead who avoids the uncanny valley, partly by not looking quite human. Speaking of…
- Supersized Eyes: 2. Alita’s trademark giant eyes appeal to human nature’s affection for all things big-eyed, give her a sense of [emotional] vulnerability, and presumably enhance her night vision. If they seem cartoonish, well, this IS a cartoon.
- Plot: What most critics criticize, the plot is not bad so much as cluttered and clotted with more story than a mere 2-hour movie can hold. In the manga, each of four subplots, which the movie intertangles, is developed in series with one or two books to itself.
- Directing: Robert Rodriguez actually simplified James Cameron’s screenplay to get this version of Alita and, stuffed plot caveat aside, created a series of individually strong scenes. I say that makes a good movie.
- Strong female lead?: Heh heh. Oh, yeah. That’s understatement. Assuming you equate “strong” with “physically dangerous,” not so much “emotionally independent” or “a fully realized individual.” But the pieces are all there, and as stuffed as it is, this is only the beginning of Alita’s story.
- Socio-critical points: 3. A city of Haves literally overshadows a city of Have-nots, Mahershala Ali plays a criminal boss who is sometimes literally controlled by an unseen rich white man who literally turns his eyes blue and improves his diction; a character named Ito has been Christoph Waltzified. Discuss freely.
Conclusion: See it if you like visual-spectacle action movies. Worth catching on 2D big-screen.
Buy film: Amazon / Buy the Manga: Amazon | iBooks