Alita Battle Angel – A Film of Squandered Potential

Alita: Battle Angel is a 2019 science-fiction action film with cyberpunk overtones, and is based on a Japanese manga from the 1990s known as Gunnm, which was created by Yukito Kishiro.

The 2019 American iteration is directed by Robert Rodriguez, and is written by Laeta Kalogridis and James Cameron. The film stars Rosa Salazar as the titular character Alita, along with Jennifer Connelly, Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali, Ed Shrein, and Jackie Earle Haley.

Production for Alita originally began in 2003, but was delayed multiple times due to Cameron working on Avatar and is sequels. The film was stuck in development hell for a number of years until 2016, when Rodriguez was named the director of the film, with production beginning soon after. It’s worth checking out for those with a soft spot for science fiction, and a great way to spend an evening while enjoying NZ betting.

The Plot

Set in the year 2263, the planet is devastated by an interplanetary war that came to be known as The Fall. 300 years later, a scientist is stumbles across a cybernetic body that belongs to a young woman, and contains a functioning human brain. He takes the body back to his theatre and attaches her to a body that he had already made.

The next morning, Alita wakes up but is unable to recall any memories from her past life. She meets the scientist, who then takes her out into the streets of the city, where she meets Hugo, a parts dealer. She also learns of Motorball, a battle royale sport were cybernetically enhanced gladiators fight it out for a chance to move to the sky city of Zalem.

Alita discovers that the scientist is actually a Hunter-Warrior, special assassins that are tasked with killing targets selected by the local authorities. While following him, the two are ambushed, and Alita shows off her battle prowess for the first time.

The next day, she goes out with Hugo and his friends to a crashed battleship, where she discovers an advanced cyborg body that once belonged to a caste of shock troops. Alita once again finds herself fighting against one the original ambushers, and is almost destroyed by his chain-bladed fingers. The scientist connects her to her new body, and she decides to fight in the Motorball tournaments.

All the competitors attempt to kill her in the games, but she escapes and on the ensuing fight, Hugo is decapitated, but she manages to keep his head alive. Hugo is attached to a new body, and in desperation attempt to climb up to Zalem, but its automated defences kill him. Later, Alita become the champion of the Motorball, and vows to find a way to get into Zalem so she can stop Nova, the orchestrator of much of the turmoil on the ground below.

The Verdict

Alita: Battle Angel was met with mixed reviews from critics. While many praised Salazar’s acting, along with the visuals, others found the story bland and clichéd.

The film went on to be a financial success, and both Rodriguez and Cameron have hinted to further sequels in the future.