Hollywood has a bad track record of adapting Japanese anime and manga into live action films, usually whitewashing the cast or changing from the source material for the sake of making the plot easier to understand often at the expense of the characterisation and larger themes. But veteran director James Cameron and visual effects guru Robert Rodriguez, with their powers combined were able to crank out a blockbuster that sets new ground for Hollywood anime, with the adaption of Yukito Kishiro’s manga series Battle Angel Alita.
Set in the distant future after a war between Earth and Mars, most of humanity now resides in either the slums of Iron City, or the floating city of Zalem, where the rich and powerful live. Doctor Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) a cyber surgeon of Iron Cities cyborg population searches through the scrap yard looking for salvage when he comes across the remains of a cyborg girl.
Taking her back to his clinic, Ido rebuilds the girl, whom he names Alita. Alita (Rosa Salazar) has no memory of her life before Ido found her and accompanies him through Iron City where she meets and befriends Hugo (Keenan Johnson) who introduces her to the sport of Motor Ball.
Hugo helps Alita piece her old identity together while Alita discovers that Dr. Ido is also a Hunter Warrior, collecting bounties on criminals. Alita saves Ido from an ambush of cyborg criminals and fights them off, showing off her instinctive combat skills and has a flashback to the war between Earth and Mars. Alita’s victory over the cyborgs draws the attention of Chiren (Jennifer Connolly), Ido’s ex-wife, and her employer Vector (Mahershala Ali). Zalem’s leader Nova commands them to destroy Alita.
Alita: Battle Angel is a visual spectacle, Iron City feels real with its cluttered streets, and all the cyborgs have unique and memorable designs and Alita herself looks very real despite her large eyes and the facial animation is perfect for capturing emotive expressions. The fight scenes are fast paced with fluid choreography. The story is sweet ands simple with an endearing protagonist that you’d certainly want to see more of .
By Daniel Murphy