Alita: Battle Angel (2019) – Summary, Review (with Spoilers)

Alita; Battle Angel - Title Card
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Alita: Battle Angel may have stunning action and special effects, but it’s mostly for naught since the emotional element is very hit and miss.


Director(s) Robert Rodriguez
Written By James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez, Laeta Kalogridis
Date Released 2/13/2019
Genre(s) Romance, Action, Sci-Fi
Good If You Like Action Movies Which Heavily Rely On The Idea Of Revenge & Doing Things For Love

Hi-Tech Battles Which Are All Hand To Hand – No Guns

Films In Which Anyone Can Die

Isn’t For You If You Aren’t Sappy

Don’t Like Action Movies Rooted In Characters’ Emotions

Noted Cast
Dr. Ido Christoph Waltz
Chiren Jennifer Connelly
Alita Rosa Salazar
Hugo Keean Johnson

Alita: Battle Angel Plot Summary

It’s 2563, and the war known as “The Fall” was over 300 years ago. During that war, colonies of Mars attacked Earth and destroyed nearly every sky city but one. Leaving a clear cut line between the rich who remain in the sky and those who live in the Iron City who support their lifestyle and riches. One of the people who used to live the high life is Dr. Ido. He did with his wife Chiren, and their daughter. However, things happened, and before Dr. Ido knew it, he lost both his daughter and wife.

Yet, rather than fight his way back into the sky, leave what the Iron City holds behind, he decided to start a new life. He’d use his training as a doctor to support the people and other skills he has gained to finance his clinic. But, then one day, while out scavenging, he comes across a part cyborg being. She remembers nothing of her past and all we know is that she came from the city in the sky. Then, when analyzed, Dr. Ido realizes she is something special and decides to name her Alita. No sooner does she wake up and walk around she becomes the apple of Dr. Ido’s eye and catches the attention of a boy named Hugo. Someone who, alongside Dr. Ido, will not only help Alita remember who she is, but set her destiny.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. What caused the war that happened 300 years ago and what remains of the beings of Mars? Heck, are there people on other plants? Cyborgs whose bodies were made to withstand the elements and travel to other plants or systems?

Highlights

The Technology

While the director is Robert Rodriguez, with this being written and produced by James Cameron, hence the $200 million budget, naturally there are a lot of fascinating fixtures to enchant the eyes. Not to the level of Michael Bay’s Transformers, with a lot of moving parts, but you can definitely see where a lot of that money went to. Especially if you watch this in IMAX or a similar format where you can see the pores on Alita’s face, and little details which don’t add much to the story, but are mesmerizing.

The Fights

A lot the praise will probably have an unnoted asterisk, and the fighting is included in that. For though you don’t get flinch-worthy fights, you do have moments when you are seriously worried for certain characters and individual characters, who have names and get developed, they do die. Now, as noted in the “On The Fence,” it doesn’t mean you’ll be all that affected, but you will at least enjoy seeing them, and Alita, fighting for their life.

Oh, but the best scenes will be the bar fight that Alita causes and the Motoball scenes. It is in those moments when you are left admiring how Salazar’s training mixes with the technology used in Alita.

Hugo & Alita’s Chemistry

There are times when Alita and Hugo seem like they are in some weird cyber x human YA novel. A dystopian one, of course, but the relationship they have is so cute that it is hard not to swoon a little bit. Especially since, with Alita’s background, love is very foreign, especially romantic love, so the feeling is new and intense. Which she shows by being a bit uncomfortably weird, but considering most people are walking around with cybernetic body parts, what’s a girl watching you sleep? Even if we never saw her learn where you live and you don’t live on the ground floor?

On The Fence

This Film Tries Too Hard To Get Into Your Emotions

Almost all action films rely on some sort of emotional moment or a relationship to drive the story. Alita: Battle Angel is not all that different, but it doesn’t use the familiar plot of something or someone dying, a revenge plot or a rescue to set things in motion. Instead, throughout the movie, it relies on the love between characters as the driving force. One which is of the romantic variety, like between Alita and Hugo, the paternal kind we see between Dr. Ido and Alita, and a few other relationships.

All of which, between the actors, you’ll see chemistry. However, once they start speaking, trying to make those emotions more than looking longingly or with worry, that chemistry falters. Part of the reason could be that the CGI gets in the way of experiencing the human connections. Also, when it comes to the dialog, it’s cheesy. I’m talking, book you get at the supermarket level cheesy. The kind of cheesy which you’d expect from maybe a first-time writer/ director, but not someone who has the respect of James Cameron and Quentin Tarintino. Heck, certainly not the type of writing you’d expect from the man who made a billion-dollar movie, Titanic, which set a precedent for many when it comes to what love should be.

Leading to what becomes Alita: Battle Angel’s Achilles heel, relationships which may have meaning in theory, but are almost robotic. Which, as the film leans more and more on these connections to create a sense of drama and get your heart pounding towards the end, it’s hard not to feel bad. For you can see the actors are in the moment, yet from screen to your heart, the interference makes the tears and screams for naught.

Miscellaneous Commentary

Is A Sequel Possible?

Absolutely, we’re left on a cliff hanger.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Purchase, Rent, Get Tickets, or Merchandise On (Fandango/ Amazon)

There is a need to question what went wrong with this film? The action was good, technology ace, James Cameron, the billion-dollar man, had his fingerprints all over this, so what happened? Well, the only thing you can really look at is the possibility that the technology watered down, or was supposed to compensate, for a sense of real emotion. For while the actors have good chemistry, then they start speaking, go beyond longing looks and moments of fear, and you realize nothing is natural and there is an active attempt to cheaply bait your emotions.

Making it so, no matter how heart-wrenching a moment should be, even to the point of bringing you to tears, it doesn’t hit as it should. Thus leaving you feeling like they are trying to hard to make a scene poignant rather than let it play out naturally. Hence the mixed label. Alita: Battle Angel has a lot going for it, but the backbone of the movie, the relationships between characters, somehow falls flat and makes the rise and fall of Alita only interesting when she is whooping ass.

 

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