Alita: Battle Angel (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In a Word: “Ani-mazing”

Alita

Keean Johnson plays Hugo (left) and Rosa Salazar plays Alita (centre) in 'Alita: Battle Angel'.

 

"Years of technical development were required to achieve the visual effects and IMAX screens will feature an advertised 26 per cent more content each frame than standard screens. Cameron and director Robert Rodriguez have combined their visual effects prowess to create a spectacle that is dazzling to behold."

With origins going back to a Japanese manga dating from 1990 and, having subsequently, spent more than 18 years in development by writer/producer James Cameron (famed for Titanic, Avatar, Terminator and Aliens), Alita: Battle Angel has been a long time in coming to the big screen.

But, delays aside, Alita: Battle Angel delivers exactly what fans of this genre have been craving for: a spectacularly realised cyberpunk world with stunning fight sequences involving killer robots and brutal cyborgs along with, in the midst of all this action, a charming coming of age story as the teenaged Alita discovers family, love, loss and ultimately, her identity.

It is the year 2563. The world has been devastated by war and survivors eke out a harsh living in the overcrowded slums of Iron City which exists in the shadow of the wealthy floating sky city of Zalem. In this grim and dangerous future, the compassionate Dr Ido (Christoph Waltz) repairs the discarded remains of the female cyborg, Alita (Rosa Salazar), who awakens with no memory of her past or understanding of the present. Discovering that flashbacks from her former life occur when she encounters life-threatening circumstances, Alita embarks on a quest to discover who she is, a task which involves no small amount of vicious hand-to-hand combat.

In stark contrast to the violence, this journey of self-discovery also features many tender and humorous moments. As a completely naive amnesiac, all of Alita’s experiences are for the first time, whether they be the joy of tasting chocolate or the thrill of a first kiss and the giddiness of young love. It is this unlikely pairing of Alita’s child-like innocence with the bold confidence of absolute martial prowess that makes the character so compelling to watch. Alita alternates between shedding blood with her bare hands to shedding tears with her controversially large anime eyes.

However, it is not just her eyes that are big - this film is one of the few movies worth experiencing on the biggest of IMAX screens. Years of technical development were required to achieve the visual effects and IMAX screens will feature an advertised 26 per cent more content each frame than standard screens. Cameron and director Robert Rodriguez have combined their visual effects prowess to create a spectacle that is dazzling to behold.

True to its heritage as a manga comic book, the story unfolds in an episodic structure that leaves you wanting more. With many mysteries still unanswered and a nemesis that is only revealed at the final moments, this is a film that begs for a sequel. In essence, this is an origin story for Alita, filled with fast-paced action, soap opera drama and philosophical musings. 

While Alita’s body may be made of metal, her passion for life is a model of the very best that humanity can achieve: courage in the face of danger, extreme generosity in love and the intensity to give everything for a belief that is good. For it is not her innate power and abilities that determines who she is rather it is her choices and actions that define her identity as a daughter, a warrior and a force for good.