Alita Battle Angel Review
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Before I begin, I would like to note that this movie was based off of an anime that I had not heard of prior to watching it. For this reason, I am going to be looking at this whole movie from the perspective of being a movie. I do tear into the story, but I’d imagine there was probably a lot of story to put into one movie, so I’m sure director Robert Rodriguez did his best. With that out of the way, let’s dive into this cyberpunk world.
Alita: Battle Angel is a movie about sacrifice, whether that’s throwing your life on the line for a loved one, or throwing away two and a half hours of your time to watch an inconclusive story. This movie was exhilarating at times, at the edge of my seat one second, then completely disconnected from it the next. It’s a massive CGI fest, and it nails it 90% of the time. This movie looks astounding, and that’s probably its strongest element. This movie is almost hard to review because I want to love it, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. Let me explain.
This movie does an excellent job of building a world that you want to explore, it’s such a cool universe. The world has been ravaged by an event called “the fall” and now humanity lives in a rusty, beat up town filled to the brim with garbage, reminiscent of Wall-E. Above the city lies a floating, mythical town of great riches. Those who live below can never go to the city above. Nearly everyone has had limbs replaced by robotic parts, the aesthetic is so unique in the sense that you can immediately recognize what movie it is from just a couple screenshots. I absolutely loved the universe that this movie set up. Watching this in IMAX was awesome. But as much as I loved the films world, it did a whole lot wrong that ruined the experience for me.
The movies soundtrack was never it’s strongest aspect, at no point in the movie did the music stand out. It did its job and nothing more. The acting left something to be desired at points, sometimes the dialogue was just so cheesy that no actor could make it interesting. I found myself rolling my eyes at certain points in the movie, the writing really wasn’t the greatest at certain times. The story is predictable, it hits every story beat you think it’s going to hit. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just been seen before. Some of the characters are incredible, but some are boring as all get out. There isn’t a lot explained to the audience which is perfectly fine, leaving the audience in the dark is a stylistic choice, but the sequel-bait at the very end of was just atrocious. I audibly groaned at the credits.
I’m now going to launch into the story, which is incredibly complex and very hard to put into a short review. Please forgive the jump-y nature of my explanation, if you’re here for the story I suggest finding a summary elsewhere.
The story itself follows a cyborg girl who is found and repaired by a genius doctor. She has no memory but she’s very special, we just aren’t told why. She meets the love interest, a post-apocalyptic bad boy. The doctor tries to protect her but she gets herself into trouble with her curiosity, and eventually she finds out he’s a “hunter warrior”, bounty hunters that kill for cash and are basically the only form of law enforcement anywhere. She and the doctor get caught in a trap, where she’s able to save his life using skills she learned in her mysterious past life, but one of the baddies escapes. She eventually becomes a hunter warrior herself so she can find and eliminate this guy before he comes after her and her ‘newfound family’.
All the while this is happening, we get a lot of information about this sport that eventually becomes really important to the plot, and that’s because every few years the champion of the sport, the guy who does the best, is allowed to go to the floating city above. We’ll get there later, in the meantime Alita discovers an alien ship that she recognizes and discovers a special suit that fits her, but the doctor refuses to put her in it because of an unknown reason. That is until her old body is destroyed when she tries to unite the bounty hunters. She does this to find the guy that attacked them earlier, he ends up showing up and nearly killing her.
The doctor is forced to put her in the suit now, so he does and she becomes super powerful, so powerful that the mysterious main villain of the movie wants her dead. More specifically, he wants her heart, which is alien and more powerful than anything built by humans. The bad guy sets up a trap to kill her but she survives and has to rescue the love interest from a bounty-hunter-turned-bad. After that the main baddie finds out the love interest is still alive, and sends to have him killed. Because he doesn’t want to be on the run, bad boy tries to go up to the city and is killed. Our main character is stuck watching helplessly as he falls to his death. This inspires her to enter the tournament so she can get up above to the villain who’s been controlling everything the whole time from the floating city. We jump ahead months in time when everybody loves her and she’s ready to race to become the champion. It ends here.
The story, needless to say, is a mess. My summary didn’t do it any justice either. I wouldn’t even call this summary super accurate as I was confused throughout part of the movie. There are parts I forgot, left out because they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and also there’s a million sub-plots to keep track of. I don’t hate it but it does make a confusing storyline. So in the grand scheme of things, this was not a good movie, but I enjoyed watching it for the world building nonetheless. I have no doubt a sequel will come up seeing as the end was a cliffhanger, and I’ll be watching that one too. Ironically, I did not think this was a good movie. I’m going to give it a 4.5/10, this is because I loved the world not the film. Should you watch it? If you’re a fan of the cyberpunk genre, or you love giant CGI films this might be for you. If you’ve got a craving for CGI battles and if the 2.5 hour runtime doesn’t bother you, go ahead and give this movie a watch. Just prepare to fall in love with the visuals, and nothing else.