Earth 2563: Where fortunate humans live in a floating city named Zalem, and the less-fortunate live below,in a dystopian wasteland named Iron City. Life is harsh in Iron City, with its inhabitants struggling to survive. An aggressive and potentially deadly game called Motorball, provides an escape for those living in Iron City. It’s a popular sport to both play and watch, with the top athlete competing for a chance to move to Zalem, a life-changing fantasy out of reach for most people.
Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) has a medical practice in Iron City, where he focuses on repairing robotic limbs. He has many patients, especially those who have been injured while playing Motorball or people who have used robotics to enhance their human bodies. While searching through a junkyard, Ido comes across Alita (Rosa Salazar), a cyborg with a human brain. We later learn that Alita was part of a elite military group that fought on Mars and her body had been dumped, with the expectation that it would never be found. Alita is a skilled warrior and quite dangerous, but her mind is of a teenage girl and she can only remember parts of her previous life through flashbacks.
Alita develops a crush on a boy named Hugo (Keean Johnson), who introduces her to Motorball and shows her the dark side of Iron City, including bounty hunters who are contracted to kill local criminals. Hugo has a dream of getting to Zalem and is willing to engage in criminal activity to realize his goals. He keeps this part of his life secret from Alita. Alita learns that her caretaker, Ito, is a bounty hunter and learns that he also has secrets, including people who want him dead.
Alita may still be recovering from amnesia, but her physical body and fighting skills are incredible and she uses them to fight those who would hurt her and those she loves. As Alita learns more about Zalem, Iron City, and her own past, she begins to understand her purpose and what she needs to do to change the world.
My husband and I saw Alita: Battle Angel, while waiting for our car to be serviced. It wasn’t necessarily a movie that we were dying to see, but it was the one that was playing at the right time. I had no expectations.
Cliche sums up my feelings.
Overall, Alita: Battle Angel is an entertaining film. It’s fun and engaging. It’s full of cliches as far as dystopian films go, not necessarily an original idea or story world. It has exciting fight sequences and it’s thrilling to see a young, female protagonist kick-ass. I also loved that Christoph Waltz plays a good-guy, which was the biggest surprise and least cliche aspect of the film!
The special effects, including the CG Animated Alita look great. Alita is an odd character. I loved her when she was fighting, but I was bothered by her wide-eyed innocence and overly girlish behavior early in the film. Her crush on Hugo is annoying. She is reduced to a cliche teenage girl. following a boy around like a puppy, basically willing to do anything that he asks. She is so naieve. Hugo is a far more interesting character than Alita. He has ambitions and conflicts. Alita’s primary conflict is that she doesn’t know who she is, making her passive, rather than active. She becomes active when she goes into battle, but it’s far less interesting than Hugo’s character conflicts. It’s a bit like The Hunger Games. Katniss is far more interesting when she has the emotional conflict of putting herself in danger to save her sister, than she is when she is simply angry and fighting. Conflict and confusion, is more interesting than rage.
I can appreciate that Alita: Battle Angel is adapted from manga. I have not read the source material, but it is clear that there was a lot of story that needed to be edited or simplified for the telling of the film. Also, it is clear from the ending, and I have since confirmed from the internet, that this is intended to be a trilogy. I think the writers did a solid job of condensing the story world in a way that makes sense to someone unfamiliar with the manga, but I also could tell that there was a richer story to be told. I wondered why this was made into a movie and not a television series. Television seems like it would be a better fit.
I’m not sure that I will see the subsequent films if they are made, but Alita: Battle Angel was an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.