Alita: Battle Angel
|Alita: Battle Angel|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Rodriguez|
by Yukito Kishiro
|Music by||Tom Holkenborg|
|Edited by||Stephen E. Rivkin|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$35.6 million|
Alita: Battle Angel is a 2019 American cyberpunk action film based on Yukito Kishiro‘s manga series Gunnm, also known as Battle Angel Alita. It was directed by Robert Rodriguez, written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis, and produced by Cameron and Jon Landau. Rosa Salazar stars as Alita, a cyborg, with supporting roles portrayed by Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson.
Originally announced in 2003, production on and release of the film were repeatedly delayed due to Cameron’s work on Avatar and its sequels. After years of languishing in development hell, Rodriguez was announced as the film’s director in April 2016, with Salazar being cast the following month. Principal photography began in Austin, Texas, in October 2016, lasting through February 2017.
Alita: Battle Angel premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square on January 31, 2019, and was released in the United States on February 14, 2019, by 20th Century Fox in Real D 3D, Dolby Cinema and IMAX 3D formats. The film received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for its visual effects, action sequences and Salazar’s performance, with some calling it one of the better manga adaptations, while criticism was directed at the “muddled” screenplay and the set-up of sequels.
In the year 2563, a catastrophic war known as “The Fall” has left the Earth devastated. While scouting the junkyard metropolis of Iron City, cyborg scientist Dr. Dyson Ido discovers a disembodied female cyborg with a fully intact human brain. Ido rebuilds the cyborg, who does not have any recollections of her past, and names her “Alita” after his deceased daughter.
Alita befriends a teenage boy named Hugo, who dreams of moving to the wealthy sky city of Zalem. Hugo introduces her to the competitive sport of Motorball, a battle royale race wherein cyborgs fight to the death.
Alita discovers that Ido is a Hunter-Warrior when she follows him one night and they encounter three cyborg assassins led by Grewishka. When Ido is injured, Alita instinctively attacks the cyborgs, killing two of them while severely damaging Grewishka before he retreats underground. Despite Alita rediscovering her skill in the ancient martial art of “Panzer Kunst”, Ido discourages her from becoming a Hunter-Warrior. The next day, Alita finds and brings home a Berserker body from a downed ship outside the city. Ido refuses to install her in the body, fearing the consequences of her heart’s full compatibility with it.
Fed up with Ido, Alita herself registers as a Hunter-Warrior. One night, she and Hugo enter the Kansas Bar to ask other Hunter-Warriors in helping her take down Grewishka, but they refuse, as Grewishka is not on the wanted list. Suddenly, an upgraded Grewishka storms into the bar and challenges Alita to a rematch, revealing he has been sent by his boss, Nova, to destroy her. Despite her courage and martial arts skills, Alita’s body is sliced up by Grewishka’s bladed fingers before she blinds him with her left arm, and Ido, Hugo, and another Hunter-Warrior force him to retreat. Ido transplants Alita in the Berserker body, which automatically interfaces with her system.
Having fallen in love with Hugo, Alita enters a Motorball tryout race as a means to send Hugo to Zalem. Ido discovers that the other contestants are Hunter-Warriors and wanted cyborgs hired by Vector to kill her. He warns Alita and as the race begins she destroys many of the contestants with her superior skills. Meanwhile, Hugo is being hunted by Zapan after he frames Hugo for murdering a cyborg. Hugo calls Alita for help and she leaves the Motorball race to rescue him. She finds Hugo just as Zapan arrives and reveals to her that Hugo has been attacking cyborgs and stealing their body parts for Vector for use in his Motorball games. Knowing that Alita is in love with Hugo, Zapan mortally wounds him and tells Alita that Hunter-Warrior law dictates that she must either kill Hugo or let Zapan finish him off. Chiren, Ido’s ex-wife, manages to save Hugo by attaching his head to Alita’s heart. Zapan attempts to stop Alita from leaving but she slices part of his face off.
Ido transplants Hugo’s head onto a cyborg body before telling Alita that Hugo’s actions were based upon the false belief that he would be able to eventually buy his way into Zalem. Ido confides that this was only a lie fabricated by Vector, and that citizens of Iron City will never enter Zalem. Alita decides to confront Vector, who has been mind-controlled by Nova, a powerful Zalem scientist. Through Vector, Nova reveals to Alita that Chiren has been harvested for her organs and then orders Grewishka to kill her. Alita battles Grewishka again and kills him before stabbing Vector, telling Nova he made the mistake of underestimating her.
Though I have some quips about the whole sexuality of beings with nothing but organic brains, thing… ie: why be a girl (or a boy) if you are just a brain in a robot body. But that aside, the message to youth, that the look of our bodies is not nearly as important as the quality of our minds, rings through in both triumphant and tragic ways. Having never read the books, or seen the anime, I didn’t know what to expect. I have to say it was awesome. It seems there will be more awesome to come. I will see this one again, and I am glad we saw it in IMAX 3D. 5 shining stars, and Highly Recommended. To sum it up in one word, Alita was Badass! – MR