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Alita: Battle Angel mixes a heavy amount of CGI and a bold story into one spectacle of a film that promises just a little bit more than it can deliver on, but is still a fun way to pass the time.
The story itself is about Alita, a (Rosa Salazar) teenage cyborg who is trying to figure out who she really is. The film can be hard to follow because of the various subplots that drive the film forward. Sometimes these plots slow down the film. Other times the plot is moving so fast that it’s hard to follow. The final 30 minutes of the film seem to rush towards the ending.
The film’s continuous changing of pace makes it seem more episodic than cinematic. Alita: Battle Angel could have succeeded more as a Netflix series than a massive blockbuster. That said, however, the film proves to be one of the best film adaptations of a manga property and should be given a round of applause for the film sticking to its original source material.
The film’s CGI mostly looks good, with a few shaky moments throughout the film. You can tell that the people behind the scenes took their time with the visual effects and made it their own.
While the main protagonist is practically CGI, Salazar does an excellent job portraying Alita with deep human emotions that feel raw and genuine. Her misunderstood character allows a lovely connection with the other characters that are featured.
The interactions between Dr. Ido and Alita are heartwarming due to the father and daughter bond that they share. Dr. Ido is an interesting character that should have a little bit more screen time. Waltz, who has two Academy Awards, knows how to put on a show, despite the limited amount of screen time he gets.
Another subplot that plundered its way through the film was the love between Alita and Hugo (Keen Johnson). Their relationship allows a more touching human side of Alita to blossom, but that is only because of the strong chemistry between Johnson and Salazar. Johnson had some cliché lines that didn’t really deliver well, but his overall performance was fine; especially since this is the first major motion picture that he has starred in.
The villains are strange, and yet, awesome to watch in the film. This is mainly thanks to Zapan (Ed Skrein) and Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley), who look terrifying and were more than just dummies for Alita to beat up. That cannot be said for the main baddie of the film, Vector (Mahershala Ali), who wasn’t as frightening as the lower-class villains. It’s a bit shameful, but his character didn’t feel much of anything but a cheap way to introduce the actual villain of the film- which won’t even be explored until the next installment to the series.
The most noteworthy thing that Alita: Battle Angel gets right is the exciting and gruesome action that takes place in the film. I was surprised by how enamored I found myself at the incredible level of action that the film has to offer. Watching Alita fight mean and brooding cyborgs like herself is just awesome. Hopefully, the next installment will have double the action and double the risk.
The one thing that really bugs me is that the ending of Alita: Battle Angel forces a sequel down the audience throats. The reveal of the actual bad guy was teased all throughout the film, and it felt like we would have some kind of final battle with him, but the film forces the audience to wait until a future installment.
All in all, Alita: Battle Angel proves to be an exciting blockbuster to watch, despite its strange and unique story that it must tell. The heavy and flowy action, the talented cast, and intriguing characters are what make the film grand and promise a great future film franchise.