Alita: Battle Angel

A Battle Mostly Won

c/o Wikipedia

Avery Seldin, Staff Writer

With sci-fi movies becoming increasingly prevalent within mainstream media as a result of the rise of CGI and improved technology, one based on a popular manga series didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. Alita: Battle Angel, features Alita, a cyborg girl struggling with amnesia who is taken in by Ido, a doctor who recognizes Alita’s uniqueness. As Alita tries to remember who she once was, she crosses paths with Hugo, a young boy who hides some deadly secrets. However, the corrupt higher powers — in particular, a mysterious man known as Nova — tries to hunt Alita down with the help of Vector, his underling, and Chiren, Ido’s former wife. Simultaneously occurring, a ruthless cyborg known as Zapan is out for Alita’s blood as a result of a humiliation she caused him.
As with all movie adaptations, this movie has flaws. Despite having a vast array of characters at disposal, only Alita, Ido, Hugo, Zapan, and one of Vector’s underlings, Grewishka, are granted a significant amount of screen time. This sadly leaves some of the more interesting characters underdeveloped; Chiren and Nova are two perfect examples of this underdevelopment. Even out of the few that do receive reasonable screen time, the only characters who develop along the way are Alita, Hugo, and Ido. The film also leaves too many questions unanswered, presenting a significant problem for the audience. If you have read the manga the movie is based on, you most likely know the answers to these questions, but, if you haven’t, tough luck. The unfortunate side effect of poor character development causes the story to be fairly confusing. The movie also ends with a pointless cliffhanger that will go unanswered unless a sequel is in the works, which isn’t likely.
Despite the flaws, the movie has its merits. Let’s start with the most obvious, this movie simply looks fantastic. The CGI is gorgeous, and I enjoy the fact that they tried to make it feel like a real-life anime, hence Alita’s eyes. Speaking of Alita, she is one of the most human characters that I have ever watched. Despite being a robot, the viewer can actually feel her change in the movie and get traumatized by what she sees and does. Unlike most movie protagonists, who act unusually nonchalant and simply shrug off what they see, Alita reacts how a normal human would in a way that is really interesting to watch. The relationship she shares with Ido, a very interesting character himself, is also adorable, especially when she first calls him father.  Ido acts like a stereotypical, overprotective dad, but, after learning what he has been through, he has a very good reason to be overprotective. It’s also refreshing to watch as he becomes more willing to allow Alita to do what she wants, despite the fact that he does know when to rein her in.
On the issue of dynamic characters, Hugo was also a pretty decent character, as he isn’t just a standard love interest. And, for the villains that do get screen time, both are really amazing. Zapan is hilarious while still managing to be an effective villain. Grewishka, on the other hand, is terrifying and really drives home how dangerous things truly are in the characters’ world.
As much as I wish I could, I can’t give this movie a perfect score. The best part of the movie is Alita herself, but everything else doesn’t really live up to the same standards. While the special effects and some of the characters were good, the many undeveloped characters, the unanswered questions, and the pointless cliffhanger drag the movie and its subsequent enjoyment down. However, if you like sci-fi movies, you should give this one a shot.
Final rating: 4/5