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alita: battle angel

DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez (sin city, machette)
STARRING: rosa salazar, christoph waltz, keean johnson, and mahershala ali

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

In a dystopian future, Alita, a wrecked cyborg is found by Ido, a compassionate cyber doctor who repairs her. As she begins to remember her former life, Ido seeks to protect her from her past. 

I've got to admit. When I first saw the Alita teaser trailer I wasn't super impressed. But then by the second and third trailer my interest began to be peaked so much that I didn't want to wait for its home release in a few months time. Now I've got to admit - my first impressions were wrong. Alita is a fun filled, action stacked, adrenaline pumping, gorgeous looking film.

 

Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.

I regularly hear mates and see strangers on social media moaning that there are no original films anymore and that its all superheroes or sequels or superhero sequels. Firstly superhero movies and sequels are great if they can stand on their own merit as a film. And secondly there are more original films out there but you're just not bothering to go see them.

Now Alita isn't entirely original. Narratively, visually, and tonally it does borrow from classic sci fi films from Blade Runner to Terminator. But the way the film makers tell their tale feels new, fresh, and original. 

The relationship between Alita and Dr. Ido is the linchpin that holds the story together and it works fairly well. You become invested in this Pinocchio - Geppetto like relationship with the strain between Alita's feelings of obligation to Dr. Ido and her wanting to explore Iron City and herself perfectly rendered. 

 

You really do forget that Alita is completely CGI because of both the exquisitely rendered imagery and Rosa Salazar's heartfelt, passionate performance. You believe that this CGI creation is a living and breathing cyborg because of the humanity Salazar infuses into the character. 

 

Christoph Waltz is of course terrific as Dr. Ido. He can do so much with a word, a turn of phrase, or even a glance. I swear that man could play a tree and completely stun the audience. 

 

Weta Workshop has done an incredible job again in rendering a world that feels lived and breathed in. Its just absolutely mind blowing especially in the motorball sequences. 

The one element that doesn't work is the relationship between Alita and Hugo. It just doesn't ring true and feels, as a romantic relationship, a little forced. 

 

 A fun filled, action stacked, adrenaline pumping, gorgeous looking film. Make sure you see it on the biggest screen possible. 

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Alita: Battle Angel is available on DVD, Blu-ray, 4KUHD and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

(No special features on 4KUHD edition)