My review: Alita: Battle Angel

The singularity has long since passed.  Machines have reached, battled with and shown to have the capability to far surpass humanity in multiple ways.  Yet, somehow in the 26th century, humans are still there.   Seemingly not enslaved.  Or so it may seem…

A caveat right up front.  I have not read the original manga series of Gunnm, so I am approaching this with a mostly blank slate.  I will likely go back to the source material at a later date to do a comparison point, but in the meantime I am reviewing this from what I gleaned of the movie and what knowledge has leaked down to me at some point through my friends and pop culture.

One aspect of the movie that altered my sense of the plot was the light balance.  The setting of the movie occurs quite some after an event referred to as “The Fall”.  It’s some kind of apocalyptic event that has caused mass destruction and wiped out large aspects of humanity.  However, the brightness of many of the scenes and the way that people carried themselves within them gave the impression that things were still pretty good.  Everybody was living happy and free.  It’s a dichotomy to the actions of many and the explanations given by key characters that society within the city is actually rather dystopian.

I am a large fan of both James Cameron (Producer/Writer) and Robert Rodriguez (Director).  Mr. Cameron is well known for taking a lot of time in the planning of his work and Mr. Rodriguez is famous for focusing on specific visual aspects that set movies apart from others (or for starting a new trend).  Based on the individual track record, my thought was that this particular method of filmmaking was possibly not a mistake at all.  It was a specific fourth wall redirection provided that mirrored the same kind of misdirection that the population of the city were living in….

…By the elite citizens who live in a giant floating city docked above.  

We all know that floating cities bring nothing but peace and love right to all, right?  Ever seen V?  How about Elysium?  It’s a science fiction trope and religious metaphor that has been used an untold amount of times before.  Everybody wants to rise up, and so they seek to reach a specific state of being and/or complete certain tasks to become one of the enlightened ones.  Nothing any different heard by anybody who goes to their chosen place of worship on a weekly basis.

The acting in the movie was natural.  Nothing seemed forced or exaggerated.  The cast seemed to all fit their roles well and chemistry felt pretty decent.  There were a couple characters who felt underutilized, but this is expected when seen from a certain perspective…you see…

Spoiler here.  Warning:
…part of the conceit of this movie is that it is only a chapter.  We need for sequels to be created to get the full picture.  This is unlike other multi-chaptered pictures that Mr. Cameron was involved with that would have been perfectly fine on their own.  Terminator comes.  Terminator fights.  Terminator goes away.  Beginning, Middle, End.

Not so much in this case.  Alita has a fairly good introduction and a reasonable climax structure wise but is sorely lacking in a satisfactory end.  It’s a true Happy Days “To Be Continued” groaner that pops up immediately after seeing the face of a specific uncredited (but fabulous) actor who just happens to share part of my own name.  You know, the one who will be in the….sequel….(?)

Do I personally hold this as a black mark of the movie.  Not really.  I love multi-chaptered movies.  I’m thinking more about the very fickle potential audience members out there who could make or break the capability for this movie because “they wanted to wait for the sequel to happen before they go to see it.”  DO NOT BE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE!!!!!  If this movie does not make a sufficient profit, no sequel will occur.  It’s an anachronism of a sort. Or perhaps paradox is a better word.  No matter what it is actually a fun piece of cinema that feels good to see in a large setting.

Overall, I give this movie a 4 / 5 … and hope to get enough sequels to round out the experience.  It may actually deserve a 5.  Or less.  Time will tell…and I look forward to experiencing it.  Hopefully that will be before The Fall occurs.


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