Heavily influenced by Blade Runner and its design, all of the films that have sat smitten with the 80’s sci-fi classic prior to Alita have caused it to falter before many will even give it a chance
Finding and audience can be tough. Finding an audience when the audience wants original work rather than another dystopian futuristic sci-fi flick with a cold-hard gimmick can be even tougher. Finding an audience when you are effectively the recently outed love child of James Cameron, pushed aside by his adoration for your blue tinged brethren, can be impossibly tough, and Alita: Battle Angel deserves credit for even making it to the big screen. Yet, once it’s story starts to flow, Alita brandishes such a wonderful personality and a majestic integrity falling for the young cyborg is simply inevitable.
Discovering the remains of a cyborg being in Iron City’s junkyard, Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) takes the brain back to his laboratory where he fixes and upgrades local residents. After repairing the head and planting it onto a fresh body, Alita (Rosa Salazar) is born, giving new life to a lost creature. However, Alita’s former life may be forgotten, but her abilities aren’t, slowly revealing themselves to Alita and those around her with immense impact.
Formed from the original Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita, this a film with huge respect for itself, and a love of all-out film making. Rarely do blockbusters take the time and care to produce something as emotional, affecting, pulsating and outright exciting as Alita. Director Robert Rodriguez has taken Cameron’s initial vision and transferred it into a fully fledged action film with endless excitement. The creation of the character Alita has been visualised remarkably, bringing such a sense of wonder to the cyborg with the huge spherical eyes. Her beautiful traits of naivety and love are plastered all over her face, and rarely do film’s so reliant on CGI manage to create such empathy with their themes and their characters.
Yet that doesn’t stop the film from bustling with action and technical prowess as its insistence on steady camerawork but outrageous choreography goes a long way to earning respect and plaudits. Alita rarely falls into the traps modern blockbusters blindly walk across, giving itself an identity and a purpose.
And this visual masterclass is the feature’s main marvel, with the story lacking in major plot points or consistent pacing. The love for Motorball (the sport of choice in Iron City) is perhaps overdone, and too many side-stories blur the true purpose of Alita’s existence. Yet the positives absolutely outweigh the negatives, even when it does come down to the story. The Motorball sections are exhilarating, however pointless they may actually be.
More than for any other reason however, Alita will suffer from those that have come before. Heavily influenced by Blade Runner and its design, all of the films that have sat smitten with the 80’s sci-fi classic prior to Alita have caused it to falter before many will even give it a chance. The story needed to wait this long for CGI to catch up to the appropriate standard, but it’s missed its slot as a blockbuster dystopian leader. Alita: Battle Angel is the dystopian sci-fi film the world needs, but it’s also the one it deserves. It’s just a shame that it’s theming has been done so many times before, because first impressions will resemble stale bread, however fresh it actually is on the inside.
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