Lauren Heimbaugh’s review published on Letterboxd:
First Things First: I did my best to not get distracted by the eyes, but it turns out I was right to fear that I wasn't ever going to be able to truly see past them. Why didn’t they just use Rosa Salazar’s real face!?
Basic Synopsis: A cyborg is pulled from a trash heap Wall-E has yet to cube, awakening to a brand new one-armed world that she must explore in the hopes of not only remembering who she was, but also discovering what is important to her now. Like love and an even more violent version of roller derby. She wants it all!
Brief Thoughts: Seriously though, the main thing keeping Alita from getting a higher score from me is how quickly it bounces around in terms of focus. Alita is discovering new things as she searches for her purpose, and when she finds something of interest she dedicates herself completely to it. This makes for an interesting character who dives in with her whole heart, but it weakens the storytelling because the plot loses that connective tissue that runs throughout fluidly. It’s practically episodic in terms of subject:
1. Is My New Dad a Serial Killer?
3. Oh Yeah! Someone Wants To Kill This Mockingjay!
4. Boys! Part 2
5. Murderball: What If Speed Racer, But People?
6. Boys! Part 3
7. Down with the Man!
8. Boys! Part 4
Good thing all the action sequences were so fun to watch. Alita may give cringe-worthy speeches, but I’m not going to say that to her face. One, because I don’t want to see those big ol’ eyes cry, and the performance Salazar gives under all that motion capture made me feel super protective of the character. And two, because she’s BA AF. The combat is so smooth and entrancing, and as much as I joke about the motorball section feeling super random, it really elevates these fight sequences to a whole new level.
Best Line of the Movie: Speaking of this future’s biggest sport, I loved the announcer rolling with the action on the course. I mean, he’s probably seen it all, but I laughed when he said: “ Maybe some Motorball will break out in the middle of this fight!”
Worst Line of the Movie: Is it safe to assume Alita shouts “hiya” in the manga? Cuz it was comically jarring in its randomness. Granted I would’ve prefered her shouting that at Hugo instead of telling him how touch sensitive her body is... It was icky in Ready Player One, and it’s icky now.
Biggest Complaint: Don’t get me wrong, Keean Johnson did a great job as Hugo the love interest, but I will never forgive him for showing up and distracting from a budding relationship between Alita and an adorable street puppy. Meet cute ruined! And then they went and did THAT to him. They did that poor dog dirty, unnecessarily so.
Quick Question: Did the nurse working alongside Dr. Ido utter a single word after the first five or so minutes of the film? Because I don’t think she did, even though she was in plenty of other scenes. Then again, I’m sure it’s probably a challenge to get a word in when you’re constantly standing next to a font of expositional knowledge.
Let’s Talk About That Ending: They forgot to write one. So here’s really hoping for a sequel!
Final Thoughts: Had it not been for the positive word of mouth surrounding Alita: Battle Angel, there’s no way I would’ve given it a chance following the initial trailers for it. THOSE EYES. Fortunately I listened to the recommendations and didn’t miss out on this great new character and world. Now I’ll just have to check out the books to fill in some of the gaps in Alita’s story.