Alita: Battle Angel ★★★★

You know for a film that’s been in development for 21 years, it’s kind of impressive that it’s even good to begin with! Now are there flaws with this film? Absolutely! But it is a very good step in the right direction for anime adaptations. Before we start anything I want to share with you my history with the medium of anime. It all started when I first watched Cowboy Bebop. I was completely blown away by the animation but also by the storytelling on display! It was a riveting combination of Buck-Rodgers style space opera, 60’s and 70’s spaghetti westerns and 1940’s pulpy film noir. To this day, it is my favorite animated television show. I then decided to go further into the rabbit hole with Akira! Let’s just say that it is tied with Ghost In The Shell as being my favorite feature-length animated film of all time. I then decided to go to the dark side and I watched Satoshi Kon’s animated masterpiece Perfect Blue. It was so beautiful and yet super disturbing at the same time! I also consider it one of the best psychological thrillers ever made period. So much so that I would consider it among the ranks of other psychological thrillers like Memento, Seven, Vertigo, The Machinist and etc. Another impressive piece of trivia for Perfect Blue is that one of my favorite filmmakers Darren Aronofsky has always loved the film and even went to the extreme of buying the rights to it for twenty thousand dollars and used some shots from the film in his own masterpiece Requiem For A Dream. Also, A lot of people have noticed extreme similarities between his other film Black Swan and Perfect Blue. So needless to say, I am a love Japanese anime and i honestly think it rivals most western animation like whatever comes from Pixar and Dreamworks. So to hear that an adaptation of Alita: Battle Angel was being made by to of my favorite filmmakers of all time was both exciting and nerve-wracking. On one hand, James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez are very talented filmmakers so it is enticing that Robert is directing and James is producing. On the other hand, anime adaptations haven’t gotten to what I would call “The Dark Knight” phase like how comic book adaptations did in 2008. Heck, I’d even say they haven’t gotten to the “Blade” or “X-Men” phase like comic book adaptations did in the early 2000’s. So what did I think of it? Well, I do think it’s flawed but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have a lot of enjoyment out of it. Let me start with the positives first. Firstly, the lead character Alita is a genuinely great protagonist and you are rooting for her all the way through the film. She’s naive and whimsical while also showing a sense of conviction and grit to her. She’s also quite relatable in the sense that she isn’t perfect and does make mistakes like most of us when we were kids ourselves. I also loved her relationship with her creator Dr. Dyson Ido who’s played by Christoph Waltz who does give a great emotional but restrained performance throughout the film. I also found Alita’s backstory when it was revealed to be quite interesting. Another positive for the film is that the universe that this film takes place in is beautifully realized by both Robert Rodriguez himself and the extremely talented VFX team that worked on this film. I also felt that while the action in this film is entirely computer generated imagery, it still had a sense of raw brutality and consequence to it that you rarely ever find in your average Hollywood blockbuster anymore. That is definitely one aspect of Robert Rodriguez’s directing style that I’ve always appreciated in films like El Mariachi, Desperado and Sin City in that he always makes the action in his films very raw, hard hitting and visceral. I also found the central romance between Alita and Hugo was genuinely convincing despite some elements of cheese here or there. Lastly, I appreciated the fact that unlike the few anime adaptations that have been made in America i.e. Dragon Ball: Evolution or Ghost In The Shell, This film in particular is not afraid of its roots and definitely is proud of being an anime adaptation and embraces it’s roots. As for issues, I do feel that the villains were very one-dimensional and didn’t have any interesting motivations behind why there doing things they did. I also feel that the central romance while certainly not as bad as say your average rom-com can be a bit cheesy at times. I also feel that the script could’ve been a bit more streamlined and focused in terms of plot. I also felt that the ending was a bit too sequel baity and forced but at the same time it isn’t as cynical as The Mummy (2017) which did the exact same thing all throughout the whole goddamn fucking movie. Overall, This film may not be perfect but I do see it being like Tim Burton’s Batman where that film may not have been a perfect Batman adaptation but it was instrumental in paving the way for bigger and better comic book adaptations like “X-Men 2”, “Batman Begins”, “The Dark Knight” and so on and so forth. If you aren’t the biggest fan of anime to begin with than you may not like this film in particular but for those of you who are fans of the medium and do want to eventually see “The Dark Knight” of anime adaptations than I highly recommend you vote with your wallets and support this film. Overall, I feel that both James Cameron And Robert Rodriguez both took a huge risk and for the most part did succeed and I’m going to give this film a solid seven out of ten.