‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Review

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writers: James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis

Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali

Synopsis: A deactivated female cyborg is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Based on the anime and manga series created by Yukito Kishiro, Alita: Battle Angel has been a passion project for James Cameron for decades now, but put if off for Titanic, and because he didn’t think the visual effects were up for the vision he had. Then Avatar happened and Cameron’s focus went to developing those films that he passed along the directorial duties to his friend Robert Rodriguez, who was also a fan of the series. Now, we get the vision that Cameron probably intended with bombastic visual effects, some pretty solid set pieces and a pretty descent cast.

Set 300 years after The Fall, Alita: Battle Angel follows a resurrected abandoned cyborg named Alita (Rosa Salazar), by Doctor Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz). When she awakes, she has no recollection of her former life, despite not being hardwired like a normal cyborg that Ido usually deals with. Alita now has to learn how things work in Iron City, while also dealing with Vector (Mahershala Ali) – the man who runs Iron City from above – a group of bounty hunters called Hunter Warriors, taking an interest to Hugo (Keean Johnson), a local in Iron City, and Iron City’s favorite sport – Motorball.

One of the best aspects going for Alita: Battle Angel is the amazing special effects that Cameron and the special effects department were able to pull off. On top of that, the 3D makes everything pretty immersive from Iron City, to the city of Zalem in the sky and Motorball (although, we can probably safely assume that most of that was CG). Plus, when it comes to Alita herself, she was motion-captured by Salazar herself, with some new motion-capture Cameron is going to use in the Avatar sequels. While most big budget movie – this being Robert Rodriguez’s most expensive movie to date –  have great ambition like Alita: Battle Angel, the adaptation actually works for what it’s trying to accomplish.

Which, of course, is an accomplishment in itself since most – if not all – anime adaptations lose a lot of what made the anime so beloved. I haven’t watched original anime, nor read the manga, but from what I was able to read it seems like Alita: Battle Angel is a pretty faithful adaptation, which should make fans happy. But, you don’t need to watch the anime to really enjoy the movie, because overall, Alita: Battle Angel is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining film.

The cast is also pretty solid considering how bombastic the movie is, with almost the whole movie being put on Rosa Salazar’s shoulders. Thankfully, Salazar is able to carry it as she brings the right amount of naivety, wonderment and badassery the role requires. Christoph Waltz plays the father-figure role well, but I wish he was in it just a tad bit more, while Alita’s other man in her life is Keean Johnson’s Hugo, who is just a bit wooden at times, and even though his character gets an interesting storyline in the movie, his development is just a tad lackluster. The villains are very mixed with Mahershala Ali’s Vector not getting enough screen time to be a real threat, Ed Skrein plays a Hunter Warrior named Zapan who is just the right amount of smug and Jackie Earle Haley plays the dangerous Grewishka, who Alita goes head-to-head a couple of times. I would mention Jennifer Connelly’s Chiren, but she doesn’t have enough screen time to really make an impact. The movie is also filled with some cameos that could surprise people, especially one that I was shocked, like many, that they were able to keep secret.

The movie does have some minor problems, like some pacing issues here and there, but weirdly – and surprisingly – with the two hour runtime the movie moves are a pretty brisk pace. The overall story misses some beats, and one thing most viewers might not like is the ending. Admittedly, I found out it’s essentially how the anime ends too, but seeing how Hollywood is a different beast, and seeing how they set up it, it should be interesting to see how things work out.

All in all, Alita: Battle Angel has some minor flaws, but overall is thoroughly entertaining and ton of fun to watch. Rosa Salazar holds the movie up on her shoulders, and no the big CGI eyes will not bother you, plus, it actually helps with the character’s situation. Hopefully, Alita: Battle Angel starts a resurgence of good anime adaptations, no matter the result at the box office.

Alita: Battle Angel

4 out of 5

Advertisements

New Podcast – Oscars Controversy, ‘Your Name’ Remake, This Week’s Trailers & More

The podcast is back up! (I also may have realized that I hadn’t posted the last pod on here too)

The podcast won’t always be this late either. I ran into something I had to take care of and the upload was late. Also, there was an update I didn’t want to wait until next week to mention.

February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along? Kidding!

How’s the cold treating you? Because it sure as hell SUCKED here in the Chicago-land area!

Anyway, we’re here for movies! February is looking like a legit month with some huge films coming out. It’s also the month that is bringing the end to a beloved franchise. So, let’s get to it!

 

1st

Limited Release: Arctic

A man (Mads Mikkelsen) stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive. The film is the feature film debut of Joe Penna aka Mystery Guitar Man from Youtube fame.

 

Miss Bala

Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) finds a power she never knew she had when she is drawn into a dangerous world of cross-border crime. Surviving will require all of her cunning, inventiveness and strength. The movie is, unbeknownst to me for some time, a remake of a Spanish film of the same name and directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood). Honestly, I don’t have a lot of interest in watching this. The trailer does nothing for me, and why I hear Gina Rodriguez is great on her show Jane the Virgin, that may not mean she’s good to lead a movie. Hey, I could be wrong, and part of me hope I am, but another thing the movie has against it is its coming out on Super Bowl weekend, and movies coming out this weekend don’t tend to do too well. Miss Bala co-stars Ismael Cruz Cordova, Matt Lauria, Thomas Dekker and Anthony Mackie.

 

8th

Limited Release: Everybody Knows

Laura (Penelope Cruz), a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister’s wedding. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open. Everybody Knows co-stars Javier Bardem.

 

What Men Want

A gender-swap of the 2000 Mel Gibson-led movie What Women Want, this movie has Ali (Taraji P. Henson) is boxed out by the male sports agents in her profession. However, she gains an unexpected edge over them when she develops the ability to hear their thoughts. The gender-swapping trend continues this year, and why I’m sure this movie will find its audience, What Men Wants may be one of those movies that gets lost in the shuffle for me. What Men Want co-stars Josh Brener, Max Greenfield, Aldis Hodge, Kellan Lutz, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Tracy Morgan.

 

The Prodigy

A mother (Taylor Schilling) concerned about her young son’s disturbing behavior thinks something supernatural may be affecting him. This one pretty much came out of nowhere, mainly because of its test screening stories. According to multiple reports, and confirmed by its director Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact), The Prodigy had to be re-edited because the movie was TOO SCARY. Apparently, test audiences missed parts of the movie because they were recovering from the scares. Reading that, and then watching the trailer, I can believe that, because I never heard of the movie until I saw the trailer – in theaters – and that last bit scared the crap out of the whole audience, including me. Needless to say, this is one to put on the Must-Watch List.

 

Cold Pursuit

Based on the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance, a snowplow driver (Liam Neeson) seeks revenge against the drug dealers he thinks killed his son. Leaving the cheesy feeling of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” playing in the trailer, Cold Pursuit looks like it’s playing with the notion of Neeson playing the badass hero. I actually loved his delivery of the reading a lot of crime novels, so of course he’s ready to kill people. There’s also the feeling that this is a payoff of the joke in Daddy’s Home 2, but hey, seeing Neeson on the big screen beating the crap out of people? I’m in. Cold Pursuit co-stars Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, Laura Dern and William Forsythe.  

 

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild. I loved the first LEGO movie, and still do. That said, the trailers for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part are just okay, but I want to say part of that is to hide the story of the movie, and maybe even some of the jokes. I’m still going to be sitting in a packed theater opening weekend, so yeah. The voice cast from the first returns, but new additions include Stephanie Beatriz and Tiffany Haddish.

 

13th

Isn’t It Romantic

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) disenchanted with love mysteriously finds herself trapped inside a romantic comedy. I kind of like the concept of this, but the trailer just doesn’t make me actually buy it.  Isn’t It Romantic co-stars Adam Devine, Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra and Jennifer Saunders.

 

Happy Death Day 2U

Tree (Jessica Rothe) discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead. Listen, I was onboard the hate wagon for Happy Death Day, but then I watched it and damn I ended up actually liking it. It knew was it was and didn’t take itself too seriously. That said, when I heard about the sequel, I wasn’t too surprised, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to this just a bit. Happy Death Day 2U co-stars Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Suraj Sharma, Rachel Matthews, Sarah Yarkin and Phi Vu.

 

14th

Fighting with My Family

Written and directed by Stephen Merchant, and inspired by the life of WWE superstar Paige, a former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment. I’m actually a huge wrestling fan – and not just WWE – and knowing some of Paige’s actual story, part of me isn’t surprised it got turned into a movie. The movie itself does look pretty great, although just by seeing the trailer, it looks like they are taking some liberties already. Fighting With My Family co-stars Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, Vince Vaughn and Dwayne Johnson.

 

Alita: Battle Angel

Co-written by James Cameron, directed by Robert Rodriguez and based on the anime of the same name; the movie is set in the future where Alita (Rosa Salazar) tries to discover the truth of what she really is, and fight to change the world. This one could easily been written off, but the recent word of mouth for the movie is pretty, and slightly surprisingly, positive. It was also suppose to come out last year, but the push back could have helped the movie. I’m also really looking forward to it. Alita: Battle Angel co-stars Christoph Waltz, Keean Johnson, Ed Skrein, Eiza Gonzalez, Lana Condor, Casper Van Dien, Mahershala Ali, Jackie Earle Haley and Jennifer Connelly.

 

22nd

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

When Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) discovers Toothless isn’t the only Night Fury, he must seek “The Hidden World”, a secret Dragon Utopia before a hired tyrant named Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) finds it first. I hate myself for saying it, but I yet to watch a How to Train Your Dragon movie, despite my best efforts to watch them. So I’m a bit bummed to think I’m going to miss seeing at least one of these movies in theaters.

 

What are you looking forward to?

New Podcast: Mr. Sinister will be in Wolverine 3, Stan Lee Becomes Action Hero & More

The Movie Pit Podcast is live!

I talk about some of the biggest news items of the week, the trailer released and this week’s limited and wide releases. Also, go like my Facebook page to get a preview of what we’ll talk about on the podcast, and to keep up with all the biggest news items of the week. https://www.facebook.com/MoviePit/