Alita: Battle Angel brings cyberpunk to the big screen
The manga series "Gunnm" also known as "Battle Angel Alita" is adapted for the big screen in 20th Century Fox's Alita: Battle Angel from director Robert Rodriguez. It's the year 2563, and the earth as we know it is no more. One day scientist Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) discovers a broken female cyborg in a junkyard. Realizing that the cyborg has a functional human brain, Dr. Ido decides to rebuild the cyborg, naming her Alita, after his late daughter.
Alita (Rosa Salazar) has no memory of her past. Along the way, she befriends Hugo (Keean Johnson). He introduces her to the sport of Motorball, a deadly race where cyborgs fight to the death. Alita also discovers that by night Dr. Ido is a Hunter-Warrior (a bounty hunter who hunts down criminals, both human and cyborg). When Ido is nearly killed one night, Alita leaps into action, saving the doctor, and decides to become a Hunter-Warrior. Along the way, Alita will have to contend with Zapan (Ed Skrerin) and Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley), who want to kill her. She has to figure out the true motives of the surplus business man Vector (Mahershala Ali).
I wasn't familiar with the source material for Alita: Battle Angel, however, I was impressed with the visual from the trailer, so I decided to give the film a look. James Cameron, along with Laeta Kalogridis's screenplay, caters to both fans and non-fans of the source material, which is a plus. One of the highlights for me with the script is we don't have to wait too long for an action sequence. To my surprise, every action sequence in the film is bigger and better than the last. As Alita's memories and skills start to come back, we watch it play out on screen.
Director Robert Rodriguez is no stranger to comic book adaptations. He successfully brought Frank Miller's iconic "Sin City" to the big screen in the past. For the most part, Rodriguez succeeds with Alita: Battle Angel, as the film is visually stunning. Throughout numerous action sequences in the movie, I had a smile on my face. If you decide to see the film, I urge you to shell out a few extra dollars for IMAX or Dolby.
Regarding the principal cast, all were decent for the most part. As our antagonist, Mahershala Ali is excellent as always, while Christoph Waltz is good as Alita's mentor. Ed Skrerin and Jackie Earle Haley were also very enjoyable as Alita's physical foes in the film. In the lead role of Alita, Rosa Salazar handles herself quite well. Having played the background for the last few years, Salazar finally gets a chance to shine, and hopefully, this will open more doors for lead roles.
While Alita: Battle Angel is an excellent time at the movies, in the role of Hugo, Keean Johnson is horrible. The character is written as Alita's love interest. However, Johnson looks lost in the part. There were a few moments with his character where I found myself laughing at some of his choices, and I'm pretty sure that wasn't the intent of the filmmakers. Thankfully everyone else makes up for Johnson's amateurish acting. With stunning visuals, impressive action sequences, and an outstanding lead performance from Rosa Salazar, Alita: Battle Angel is worth seeing at your local theater.
Final Grade B