Alita: Battle Angel Review - Four Stars! Vivid, Brilliant, Powerful

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Alita: Battle Angel, from 20th Century Fox and Producers Jim Cameron and Jon Landau, presents the story of a young girl’s journey as she fights against the odds to learn her past and unlock her future.

Directed and co-written by Robert Rodriquez, Alita: Battle Angel stars Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Idara Victor, Keean Johnson, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Michelle Rodriguez, Ed Skrein, Eiza Gonzalez, Lana Condor, Elle LaMont, Jeff Fahey and Casper van Dien. Alita: Battle Angel was also written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogrodis.

The film begins with Dr. Dyson Ido, played by Christoph Waltz, scavenging through a large scrape pile of used cyborg parts, mechanical mishaps and metals, when he sees a perfectly formed face, delicate features, intact, with no damage.

As it is the 26th century, he scans the brain and finds it perfectly healthy. Taking her home, we see modernized medicine is more about repairing the cyborg technology and prosthetic enhancements that now enable the weak to become the strong.


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After he attaches a body to her, the next scene shows Alita, played by Rosa Salazar, waking. She begins to realize she is alive, with moving workable parts. After a few tumbles, she makes her way downstairs where Nurse Gerhard, played by Idara Victor, and Dr. Ido, are finishing repairs on a cyborg who had been mugged for his parts.

When they realize she is awake, like an amnesia victim she tries to determine who she is and if she should know the people who are caring for her and extending such kindness and compassion. They are as in the dark as she on her life and hope, as her brain is healthy, working and functional, any repressed memories of her past life will surface.

Until then she has a new name; Alita; a new home, Iron City, and a new family.

On her first day out, in Iron City, she and Dr. Ido, the unofficial mayor who everyone comes to for free repairs or accepts barter wages for work, is checking up on someone. Suddenly, a giant security machine marches through the street, demanding clearance.

Alita sees a puppy who will be squashed and killed and innately, she readies herself in a warrior stance, rolls, rescues the animal, manages not to be killed as the machinery stomps rhythmically. It is the first time she becomes aware that before, in her past, she was something, either very courageous or very stupid, either way she put others before her and rushed to rescue without thought.

Soon she and Hugo, played by Keean Johnson, who is impressed at her warrior skills, are hanging out and are inseparable. Bound emotionally, they have a loyalty that is the testing point for the official leader of Iron City, Vector, played by Mahershala Ali who often purchases the soul by promises of freedom if enough points are earned.


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Rounding out the players Chiren, played by Jennifer Connelly, who once married to Dr. Ido, is also a doctor so highly revered and skilled those from other worlds desire her. Her partnership with Vector ultimately become her downfall.

Powerball, the national pastime, is played for big audiences and on street corners, pick up games like stick ball, basketball or roller derby. The best player, the champion allegedly earns a ticket to paradise.

After the memory breakthrough Alita is on the journey to learn the truth of her past and use it to unlock her future. With a functional brain, her emotions are also healthy and as we find she cares deeply, genuinely, even for those whom she doesn’t know. She protects and defends. And she loves.

Alita: Battle Angel, with the producing team of Jim Cameron and Jon Landau on board and under the direction of Robert Rodriguez, is destined for stratospheric box office success.

There really isn’t the need to dissect the film into technical, story and special effects and yet as that is so much a part of what this film is about it is important to talk for a moment of the story which I thought was exceptional.


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Taken from the 26th century, the emotions remain the same, life, even in the midst of heated battle can be calmed with humor. Christoph Waltz plays in a live action role against the backdrop of motion capture. His delivery is perfect. And he is able to play a real sense of humor.

Many of his scenes are delivered with deadpanned humor and one scene in particular, the fight at the Kansas, as Alita is determined to show all who is boss, Ido shows up and delivers the only line that will stop a full on bar fight in the middle of iron City. It was brilliant and very funny.

Rosa Salazar has a performance capture role, which means she delivers the body movements and motions while speaking the lines delivering the emotion and dialogue. She was very impressive.

Creating the set, the cyborg population belong to the special effects team at WETA digital. Four time Academy Award winner Joe Letteri, a virtuoso, helming the project just creates endless possibilities and its stunning, high level, and never before seen work.

Alita: Battle Angel has it all! Stunning special effects, performance driven roles, a solid story that is captivating from the opening sequences, and fight scenes that are really otherworldly. And with all that, the story and director humanizes the characters drawing the audiences into experiencing the same emotions that our characters are feelings.


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By the climatic ending we are emotionally invested so much so that we want an overly romanticized resolution, and yet, as our warrior Angel carries on we find even in life knowing the love was real holds through the dark times.

Alita: Battle Angel opens February 14, 2019. See this film.

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