Alita: Battle Angel – An action-packed but overall bland sci-fi adventure

Posted on 6 March 2019
By Roisin Gordon
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Alita: Battle Angel sees creative and visionary filmmakers Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron join forces to bring us a stylish and action-packed movie… Well at least that’s what we thought we’d get.

Despite it’s decent visuals and thrilling action sequences, it can’t help but pale in comparison to their previous works.

Based on the manga series, the story follows Alita (Rosa Salazar) a cyborg who is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Dr Ido (Christoph Waltz) who rebuilds and takes her in, treating Alita as his own daughter.

As Alita has no memories of her past and who she is, she must learn to navigate her new life in Iron City. But when Alita discovers her natural fighting abilities, it unlocks a clue to her past and must use it to fight back against the corrupt Hunter-Warriors who are trying to take her down.

Having a futuristic city that divides the elite and everyone else, as well as the main hero who defies the odds to fight back against the corrupt is nothing new in sci-fi.

We’ve seen many films such as Elysium and Ready Player One explore this, but considering both filmmakers have proved adept at creating stories that feel creative and original, this film doesn’t do enough with its story to set itself apart from other films and to keep you invested throughout.

The relationship between Alita & Hugo wasn’t very interesting, creating a romance that felt very forced and rushed. Whilst they did have some good scenes together initially, such as Hugo teaching Alita how to play Motorball, you don’t feel invested enough in their relationship to care what will happen to them.

The visual effects and set designs are decent, creating a bleak and dark yet vibrant feel. From the desolate waste filled land of Iron City to the stylized Motorball Stadium, the scenery is nice enough to look at.

However, previous films such as Sin City and Avatar displayed much more visually pleasing effects that draws you in more.

The action sequences proved to be the most exciting moments in the film, creating a gritty yet energized tone that compliments its cyberpunk setting.

One scene that stood out in particular was the Motorball race, which shows an intense and action-packed battle between Alita and the bad guys as they compete for victory.

Rosa Salazar does a fine job at playing the titular hero, nicely balancing the young girl who tries to adjust to her new surroundings as well as the badass action hero when it comes to taking down the bad guys.

Alita may not be on the same level as some of the other female heroes from Cameron and Rodriguez’s previous films, but she’s likeable enough to have you root for her throughout the film.

The motion capture for Alita is off-putting at first glance, as the character design does look a little creepy. However thanks to Salazar’s performance, you manage to overlook it as the film progresses.

Christoph Waltz gave a great performance as Dr Ido, and whilst we all enjoy watching Waltz playing villainous roles, it was nice to see him go against type by playing a fatherly mentor figure who tries to guide and protect Alita in her new surroundings.

Mahershala Ali is one of the greatest actors in Hollywood at the moment, and considering he is the main villain you’d think he would be one of the films highlights.

Unfortunately the character is so bland that you almost forget he’s in the film and despite Ali’s talents he wasn’t given much to work with to have you invested in his character.

Ed Skrein’s role as bounty hunter Zapan proved to be a much more entertaining villain, especially in the scenes where he is sparring with Alita, showing a cocky yet threatening demeanor.

Skrein is so hilariously over the top with his performance that you can’t help but enjoy every moment he’s on screen.

Alita: Battle Angel has some great action scenes and nice visuals, but overall the story just lets itself down.

Purple Revolver Rating: 3/5 – style over substance