ScreeningNotes’s review published on Letterboxd:
Biopower & Body Politics / Bodies as Politics
"Whose body is this?"
Hugo takes them apart; Ido puts them back together. People switch bodies, lose or exchange body parts, or have their bodies customized for the games. Bodies are everywhere and everything
Alita begins her journey without a body until Ido gives her one that belongs to someone else; this body works for her, but it doesn't fit her, it doesn't properly serve her purposes or match her mental image of herself
Alita's journey is one of corporeal dysphoria: she feels wrong in her body, and when she finds a body she wants, one that she identifies with, it is denied her and she must fight for it
"I don't need your permission to live."
But they do need permission to live: these bodies may belong to the people who inhabit them, but Nova controls them all, not only socio-economically—nobody leaves Iron City to go to Zalem—but also biologically, as the "watcher behind the eyes" who can inhabit a body and speak through it
He decides who lives and dies through the Hunter-Warriors, permitting them to kill some but protecting others from their violence. He decides who matters through the games, offering fame and publicity. He is the center of this panopticon, exerting his biopolitical influence on all bodies around him
"This is just a shell. Good or bad: that's up to you."
But with the right body, any power structure can be toppled. Corporeal empowerment is politically transcendent