Review of Alita: Battle Angel

12 Mar

I got interested when I watched this.


That girl reminded me of my niece. So I took my niece to go see the film. Nervous as heck that it was going to be too gross for her. She really enjoyed it.

I also know nothing about the source material. I saw a 90 second clip from youtube from the anime after I got home from the film because you show a few people the trailer, Youtube reads you or something. So don’t ask me how it fairs compared to the source material.

Overall, think of it like high-end graphics Pinocchio, if Pinocchio had a past he couldn’t shake or remember and his duty was to fight injustice.

A doctor who repairs cyborgs finds a core with a still-living brain in the trash heap beneath the last floating city. The cyborg is just the face and chest with the heart, when he gives her a body she wakes, unable to remember who she is.  She discovers the world around her, and learns that there’s more to her new father than meets the eye: He is a Hunter Warrior, a bounty hunter that gets rid of villainous cyborgs who haunt the regular folk, and he knows more about her past than she’s letting on. This leads to her befriending and falling in love with a boy named Hugo.

The first third of the film is us watching her be very human, even though she’s synthetic and the oversized eyes are a constant reminder that with the exception of her brain, Alita is mostly a machine. We learn more about her father Ido and his ex-wife Chireen, why they do what they do, as well as the world around them. I really enjoyed parts, but I felt like the world was kind of empty – Iron City seems kind of cheerful at least during the day, although you learn the truth about people in what I thought were good twists. Learning more about the past feels organic, as Alita is at least 300 years old, and the technology that she came from has been lost.

Most of my nitpicks were more from my writer’s brain then someone who was just enjoying the film. If Iron City is so bad, why more people aren’t living outside of it, and why an old Martian Battle Cruiser (300 years!) has been abandoned for so long, how are these very dangerous fighting cyborgs taken out by paralysis and stripped of their parts, etc. If you really think about it, these cyborgs should be trying to disable each other as opposed to fighting, but I’ll shut up because the fight sequences are fantastic.

One thing I didn’t think about until later is that it does play into a favourite trope of mine: Bloodless carnage. Basically, if you’re human, there’s going to be some blood but it’s not graphic. People and animals are implied to be killed offscreen. Cyborgs we see the full meal deal. This trope I recognized when I was a kid – basically it doesn’t count because they’re robots. Turn to black stuff red and suddenly you can’t sell Mattell products during commercials.

(Okay fine: Jack’s scratched up. You see my point. Spoiler Alert: Hugo and the dog are the only two characters we get to see bleed red).

Anyway – really enjoyed it, good flick overall. I’d be nervous to take anyone younger than 11 to the movie, but it depends on the kid. My niece liked it, but I’d probably say more kids closer to 13 than 11. Go see it for the graphics alone, the creativity in the cyborgs and seeing how they move is worth the price of admission.

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