The ads for Alita: Battle Angel tell you not to miss the “mind-blowing cinematic experience of the year”, and they’re definitely speaking the truth. Alita was eye-catching, visually stunning, and a must-see in 3D. The world that James Cameron built is spot-on, showcasing apocalyptic destruction from the lens of the science fiction world. Together with the brilliant CGI, the film puts you right in the middle of the action as balls fly through the air, blades clash, and cyborgs battle it out. You’ll feel more emotion and heart from a CGI-generated robot than you ever have in a fully human movie and dive right into a world that you sometimes forget isn’t real.
However, the cinematography and very realistic CGI seem to have swallowed up a lot of the story. Besides the amazing battle scenes and emotional connection, Alita struggled in providing an in-depth story. The pacing was a little off and the development of the side characters was pushed aside to help advance Alita’s arc. At the end of the film, you also feel lacking, as if the film didn’t resolve its mission.
On the surface, Alita was a technically stunning film with groundbreaking CGI and beautifully built words. However, this came at the expense of the overarching storyline and the advancement of the film.
Based on the manga, Alita: Battle Angel is a story of self-discovery, determination, and the pursuit of love. When Dr. Ido finds a head in the scrapyard, he takes it home and builds it a robotic body. However, when the robot wakes up, she has no recollection of who she is or where she came from. Bestowing her with the name Alita, Ido helps the cyborg learn more about her identity, confront her past, and prepare for the future.
Although the film is very different from the manga, it provides something that the written story didn’t have – true emotion. Ido’s journey with Alita provides a passionate adventure that makes audiences fall in love with their relationship and their fight. It pulls you into the story and makes you want to cheer for Alita’s success and the strength of her family and friends.
However, the emotional value of the film generates a more “touchy-feely” film, rather than the dark and grim environment that was expected. It also focused too much on Alita and inadvertently neglected the overall storyline of the film.
Underneath Alita’s story, there was a guiding moral question and an overarching worldly problem that could’ve been done so much bigger and better. Instead, the issue was never really resolved. The movie focused a little too much on Alita’s development and not enough on the overarching issue, the villain, or the all-encompassing moral of the film. Therefore, the ending was extremely rushed and you ultimately leave the theater a little empty.
The beginning of the film focused so much on building the story that the ending didn’t seem to be carefully planned. You don’t fully understand what’s going on and it seems as though the movie was given a bland ending simply to set it up for a sequel.
The film focused very much on building Alita’s world and it was truly astonishing. Audiences watch her entire life develop throughout the entirety of two hours. You see her as a metaphorical child, learning about the outside world and what she wants in life. Then, we see her grow and develop into a woman as she falls in love, understands her past, and determines her place in the world.
However, with the entire movie focusing on Alita, it neglects the stories of everyone else around her. Instead of developing the side characters in the film, the directors simply threw a lazy blanketed goal for every citizen. Everyone wants to get into floating elite world of Zalem and therefore, the producers didn’t have to focus on anyone else’s views, desires, or guiding morals. This aspect of the film ultimately seemed pretty lazy and detracted from the development of the cinematic world.
From the moment we see Ido scavenging through the scrapyard, the views of the cyberpunk world are simply astonishing. James Cameron did it again and built a world that is beautifully disastrous, mysteriously adventurous, and technologically brilliant. Throughout the film, you WILL forget that none of it is real and feel just as though you’re a cyborg yourself. We see the world through Alita’s eyes and it makes us feel as though we’ve also been reborn again. However, this time, we’ve been dumped into a fully-developed world that we have the amazing luxury of exploring within just two hours.
The CGI was definitely the best thing about the film. The technology is lightyears ahead of other films and it was truly impressive throughout the entire movie. There was one scene in particular where Alita heads underwater that was simply the icing on the cake. From the way Alita’s hair moved to the water drenching her clothes, everything was extremely realistic. You can really tell how much time, effort, and detail went into making everything absolutely perfect.
Even after Aquaman and some amazing superhero movies of 2018, Alita was able to captivate audiences through its engaging fight scenes and make those action films seem like a teen dance movie. The CGI was more real than anything else we’ve seen in the past year and helps to put you right in the middle of the action. You whiz past the ball during the Motorball race, sense your heart racing during each fight, and feel every painful jab and stab. The fight scenes are truly magnificent and are probably more engaging and intense than anything we’ve seen in a while.
All in all, I would rate Alita a 7/10. On the surface, the film was technically brilliant and truly is the cinematic experience of the year. You’ll feel as though you’re right in the world, dodging punches and weapons, while traversing through a well-built civilization. However, underneath the surface, the characters weren’t fully developed and the film ultimately neglected to solve most of the issues it brought up.