Monday, February 25, 2019

Movie Review: "Alita: Battle Angel" (2019)

Director: Robert Rodriguez
Year: 2019
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes

A cyborg with a living human brain is found in a scrapyard and brought back to full functionality by Dr. Ido. He calls her Alita and treats her like a daughter, though her desire to rediscover her past leads her down a treacherous path full of dangerous people.

Alita: Battle Angel 2019 movie Rosa Salazar Christoph Waltz
"If you're born on the ground, you stay on the ground." (Image Source)
Mark our words, there will be a time in the not-too-distant future when we'll watch a movie and won't be able to distinguish CGI characters from actual on-set actors. SKYNET IS REAL, Y'ALL. "Alita: Battle Angel" is directed by Robert Rodriguez, who is known for films like "Desperado," "Sin City," and "Machete." He also helped write the screenplay along with Laeta Kalogridis and James Cameron, who was originally attached to direct this project before he chose to focus on making 17,000 "Avatar" sequels. This film tells the story of a cyborg called Alita (Rosa Salazar). She was found in the scrapyard and put back together by Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz), who uses cybernetic parts to repair humans. Alita is mostly a machine, but she has a human brain. However, she can't remember anything from her past. As she navigates the complicated world with a certain innocence to her outlook, a situation of danger and violence triggers memories of the warrior she once was. Alita's quest to rediscover her past puts her in dangerous situations as she makes enemies of influential people who want her tech for themselves.
Alita: Battle Angel 2019 movie Ed Skrein
"Always ask: what is it I'm not seeing?" (Image Source)
The world of "Alita: Battle Angel" is vast. It has many characters, world-specific terms, and customs that the audience needs to become familiar with quickly, elements like two giant cities, one in the sky for elites (Zalem) and one on the ground for the lower class people (Iron City), and a sporting event at the center of the story called Motorball (which is eerily similar to Rollerball as seen in the 1975 film of the same name). Unfortunately, there is so much stuff going on and so many characters to introduce that much of the world-building gets lost in the fray in favor of a romantic element, a familial element, and a quest for Alita to rediscover her past. Some of these choices are good, and others, well, others were obviously written by James Cameron and mirror "Titanic" almost entirely. The narrative is a bit jumbled, and certain aspects of the dialogue come off as corny. The romantic plot is cringe-worthy and pretty dopey considering a Wonder Bread boy like Hugo (Keean Johnson) thinks he's hot shit and thinks Alita should be in awe of his presence when she was a fucking warrior princess compared to his part-stripping tomfoolery. Yeah right, James.

That being said, for us, the positives in every other aspect of the film outweigh the negatives. The visuals are absolutely phenomenal. It's scary how good computer-generated imagery is getting. While people are rightfully nervous about Elon Musk's growing James Bond villain-esque life mantra, we should also be worried about James. Fucking. Cameron. HE IS SKYNET, DON'T @ US. The texturing on the character of Alita is insanely good, and if it weren't for some exaggerated features on other characters, we might have had to look twice to realize they weren't real. The action and fighting sequences are also amazing and breathe life into an otherwise familiar action-adventure-sci-fi affair. Watching Alita battle it out with other cyborgs gave us such a feeling of joy. A couple of moments during these battles and sporting events even caused us to cheer with excitement, as did the audience in our crowd.
Alita: Battle Angel 2019 movie Keean Johnson
"Didn't exactly come with a manual, did you?" (Image Source)
We have to say, we enjoyed the world of "Alita: Battle Angel" and would be thrilled to spend more time with these characters in the future. We wish the movie would have been longer than just two hours. Maybe if it had been turned into a Netflix show, those behind the scenes could have developed this universe a bit more in-depth. Though it has many flaws overall, we had a blast watching this movie and think it is worth checking out.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.6/10
RT Rating: ~59%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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