Alita: Battle Angel, the 2019 live-action cyberpunk adaption of the 1990s manga by Yukito Kishiro, let’s see if this film is a masterpiece or a certified dumpster fire.
What Is Alita: Battle Angel About?
Alita Battle Angel takes place in the year 2563, 300 years after an event referred to as “The Fall”. Whilst scavenging in a scrapyard Dr Dyson Ido (played by the magnificent Christoph Waltz) finds a disembodied female cyborg with her brain still intact. (played by Rosa Salazar) Ido takes the cyborg back to his workshop and repairs her. When the cyborg reawakens, she has no memory of who she is or anything that has ever happened to her. Ido names the cyborg “Alita” after his deceased daughter Alita Ido.
Alita befriends Hugo (played by Keean Johnson), a young man whose dream is to leave Iron City and go up to the wealthy sky city of Zalem. Alita also meets Dr Chiren (played by Jennifer Connely), Ido’s ex-wife, who is mad at Ido for giving Alita the body that was originally designed for their daughter. Hugo introduces Alita to motorball leading to Alita’s desire to win a motorball tournament so she can send Hugo to Zalem.
One night Alita follows Ido out of the house and discovers he is a bounty hunter known as a “Hunter Warrior”, which leads to Alita and Ido fighting against three other cyborgs, including a cyborg Grewishka (played by Jackie Earle Haley). Alita damages Gewishka using a fighting style known only to URM cyborgs known as Panzer Kunst causing Grewishka to retreat.
Hugo shows Alita a crashed URM ship not that far from Iron City, where Alita discovers a new cyborg body that “calls” to her. Alita brings the body back to Ido’s workshop, but Ido refuses to install Alita into the body. Annoyed, Alita registers to become a Hunter Warrior and goes to the Kanas bar, which breaks out into a brawl when Grewishka arrives and almost kills Alita until Hugo, Ido and McTeague (played by Jeff Fahey), a Hunter Warrior who leads a pack of cyborg dogs.
With her current body destroyed, Ido has no other option but to install Alita into the URM body. A bounty is put on Hugo, which leads to another Hunter Warrior named Zapan (played by Ed Skrein) almost foiling Alita’s plan to save Hugo but ending up getting his face slashed in half by Alita.
Once Hugo is given a cyborg body, he tries to climb to Zalem but dies in the process leading to Alita becoming heartbroken and swear vengeance against Vector and Nova.
Rosa Salazar does a fantastic job as Alita despite Alita’s entire character being CGI. Christoph Waltz is always a delight to see in any role, and he does a great job of playing a father figure to Rosa Salazar’s Alita. Keean Johnson plays a conflicted scavenger and street thug really well, and you understand his struggle to do right by Alita despite his thuggish ways.
Alita Battle Angel is beautifully shot and avoids going into the uncanny valley especially considering Alita herself is entirely CGI. Robert Rodriguez faithfully captured the story and passion of the original manga in his adaption to the point the original creator Yukito Kishiro even called the movie a “masterpiece”.
Alita is a solid 4/5 movie.
Alita Battle Angel is now streaming on Disney+ in several countries, including the UK, Ireland and Germany.