Anime Adaptation, Alita: Battle Angel

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Anime Adaptation, Alita: Battle Angel

Noah Conley, Broadcast Editor

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  So, as an anime fan, I had very high hopes for Alita: Battle Angel. It’s an adaptation of a classic manga and anime franchise, and it had James Cameron producing it and Robert Rodriguez directing, which seemed like an odd pairing, but also one with some potential. After seeing the movie, I can say that while Alita: Battle Angel gets some things right, it doesn’t do enough that could convince Hollywood to invest heavily into anime adaptations.

  Alita: Battle Angel is about the titular Alita, a cyborg with a robotic body and a human brain that is found in the Scrapyard and repaired by Dr. Dyson Ido. However, Alita has amnesia and must now navigate the harsh world of Iron City, a city that was built underneath the last of the great sky cities: Zolum.

  Alita herself, played by Rose Salazar, is an astounding special effects creation. Whether she is just chilling and hanging out with her friends or if she is punching her way through a bar full of cyborg bounty hunters, Alita feels like a real person interacting with the world instead of a bunch of CGI. The special effects overall is probably what will sell the most tickets, and for the most part, Alita deserves that.

  The action scenes are way more ‘anime’ than I was expecting in a Hollywood movie, with plenty of jumping around, robotic martial arts, and screaming. The fight choreography was also very well done, giving these scenes a kinetic energy that I haven’t really felt in any recent blockbuster.  There are also the scenes that involve ‘Motorball,’ a fictional sport that I can really only describe as high speed roller derby, combined with basketball, and deadly weaponry. The Motorball scenes are excellently shot and composed, making the viewer feel as though they are watching a very deadly and very popular futuristic sport.

  Speaking of which, the setting of Alita: Battle Angel, Iron City, very much feels like a real place. The aesthetic that the team behind the movie chose really helps sell Iron City as a kind of worn-out place that was built out of spare parts and junk. There are also some neat costume, vehicle, and architectural designs put on full display thanks to the movie’s frequent wide shots of Iron City’s cyberpunk-esque skyline.

  Now, at this point, it’s time we address the weakest part of this movie: the story. It was something I was worried about from day 1, since I knew that Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron were both very technical filmmakers who like to focus on all these technical aspects I have mentioned thus far. So, when it comes to the acting, the screenplay, and the pacing, Alita: Battle Angel definitely falls flat. While Rose Salazar gives a great performance as Alita herself, everyone around her just feel like automatons meant to push Alita’s arc further. Christolph Waltz gives an ok performance as Dr. Dyson Ido, but you can tell he didn’t have a lot of material to work with. Mahershala Ali is basically in the same situation with his role as the main villain, Vector. There’s also Hugo, the boy Alita meets who becomes a friend and love interest for Alita. Without spoiling anything, Hugo’s character and acting fell flat, but his arc was interesting to watch and had more twists than I was expecting from what I thought was YA novel-esque boyfriend #298. There’s also the dialogue. It feels wooden and propped up, like a movie set, ironically enough. It again feels like the dialogue is meant to push Alita further and further while all the other characters (except for Hugo) don’t go anywhere interesting with their story arcs.

  But despite the weakness of the story, Alita: Battle Angel rewards those who can endure it’s erroneous screenplay with incredible action, visual effects, and enough technical wizardry to make you ignore the wooden dialogue and lack of story arcs. And for that, I will give Alita: Battle Angel 6 Howls out of 10 Howls.