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Posts Tagged ‘cyberpunk manga’

I loved last year’s Ready Player One.  It is a deeply flawed movie, but if you go with it, you simply don’t care about the flaws, because it’s a fun ride.  Alita: Battle Angel has that same quality.Alita Battle Angel Poster

In the year 2563, 300 years after “the fall”  earth has been devastated, the remains of the population live in a crumbling city all working for Zalem, the sky city floating above them.  Dr Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) finds the remains of cyborg (Rosa Salazar)with the brain of a teenage-girl.  He repairs her and names her after his late daughter Alita.  As she regains fragments of memory it becomes clear that there is a lot more to Alita.Alita Battle Angel 1

Based on a Japanese cyberpunk manga series  by Yukito Kishiro from the early 90’s.  James Cameron has owned the movie rights for the best part of twenty years.  He suggested it would be his next project after the Dark Angel TV series, then again after Avatar.  After deciding to concentrate of giant Smurfs sequels he hired Robert Rodriguez as director.Alita Battle Angel 2

The plot is thin, predictable and filled with every cliché you can imagine, and the exposition is clunky.  These things really don’t matter, how much plot do you need in an action film? For predicable and clichéd, you could read satisfying.  A certain amount of exposition is needed, and it is kept to a minimum here, in fact there are lots of things we are not told.  This I expect is a combination of things the filmmakers don’t deem important, and those they are saving for future instalments.  With roots in genre movies, Robert Rodriguez knows all about shorthand, he makes great use of hit here with costume.  You can track Alita’s accelerated character arc by her wardrobe.  The same can be said of the villains, without giving anything away, you instantly know who to trust and who not too.  This helps things zip along at a great pace.  It’s when the pace drops that the film loses its way, particular in the middle section, but don’t the action soon picks up again.Alita Battle Angel 3

The film looks spectacular as you would expect, but that isn’t enough on its own, the largely animated characters are believable and believable within the narrative.   Alita’s oversized manga eyes are far less problamatic than I expected, although I’m sure they have been toned down since the first teaser last year.  A perfect blend of childish innocence and near fetishized ability, Alita is endearing where she could have been problematic.  This is in no small part due to Rosa Salazar’s excellent motion capture performance.  The success of her performance is vital, if you don’t warm to the character you won’t like the film.Alita Battle Angel 4

The end of the film is something of a risk, leaving the narrative unfinished without an actual cliff-hanger.  If the film performs well enough to earn a sequel, or franchise this choice will look inspired.  If it is Alita’s only outing, it may feel a little unfinished. Alita Battle Angel 5

A perfect example of this type of film, if you go into it with the right mindset, you will love it.  If you use a critical eye and look for the problems, you will find them.  Just go with it!

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