After years in development, producer James Cameron and director Robert Rodriguez are finally delivering the new sci-fi action film Alita: Battle Angel, based on the Japanese manga series Gunnm. The movie tells the story of a young cyborg in the 26th century as she sets out on a journey to discover the truth behind her past, landing her in unexpected trouble.
The concept of this film is super interesting, and it is executed in a way that is thoroughly fun to watch. The pacing is deliberate, and once the script hooks you, it doesn’t let go. This has every quality of a great sci-fi blockbuster. There is plenty of action, the world is intriguing, and the story is compelling. Even though the movie fits nicely within its two-hour runtime, you can’t help but feel that you could stay in this world forever.
The film’s main characters are super compelling. Alita is an interesting, sympathetic, and rounded protagonist. Her internal conflict involving her identity serves as the main conflict in the movie, and while the amnesiac storyline has been done before, the tropes are handled effectively in a way that allows the film to maintain the audience’s interest. Dr. Ido is also a compelling character who is able to gain the audience’s sympathy through his relationship with Alita.
A few of the supporting characters aren’t quite as well-developed. The love interest, Hugo, does leave something to be desired, and some of the secondary antagonists, like Zapan, feel somewhat unnecessary. Other characters seem left purposefully ambiguous in hopes of a sequel, such as Nova (the big baddie played by Edward Norton) or Gelda (a figure from Alita’s past seen in flashbacks).
The ensemble that was assembled for the movie was great too. If there was a weak link, it would be Keean Johnson, as he did have a few scenes in which his delivery was a bit off. Rosa Salazar is wonderful as Alita. She nails the combination of innocent optimism and badass swagger that the character demanded. Christoph Waltz is great in his supporting role too, giving the character an added layer of depth and emotion.
The visuals of the film are absolutely phenomenal. The trailers do not do justice to the scale of this movie. It is truly beautiful to watch. The look was achieved from a mixture of practical effects and motion capture work, and the result was very impressive. The amount of effort and money put into the way the film looked is obvious. No big-budget sci-fi movie has looked this good in a long time.
You need to see this in 3D on the biggest screen possible. The advance screenings were held in Dolby Cinema 3D, and it was one of the best theatrical experiences ever. It is worth every penny you will spend in the upcharge and every second you have to travel to see this in the biggest, best way possible. Alita: Battle Angel is the most immersive 3D movie to come out since Avatar all the way back in 2009.
Overall, Alita: Battle Angel was a very pleasant surprise. It’s a ton of fun, and it is one of the best-looking blockbuster hopefuls in a long time. Hopefully this film connects with audiences too, so that we can return to this world with a sequel.
Alita: Battle Angel opens in theaters on Valentine’s Day (February 14).