I had been waiting for this one since I saw the preview before Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It looked like it was going to be amazing and they made the lead robot chick super adorbs and gave her an excellent lead voice. Well-known hint: You put anything remotely like fighting robots in your movie and I will watch it. Except transformers, those are trash. Screw you Michael Bay.
Let me preface the rest of this review by saying that I never read the manga Alita: Battle Angel is based on. I will, after I finish this review. I don’t want to soil this review with “Muh source material”. Oh. Spoiler warning I guess.
Alita: Battle Angel is about an android discovered in a scrap heap that gets reconstructed. Surprisingly, the android’s brain is “perfectly maintained” or something. Despite being in the middle of a scrap heap for what later discover could be as many as 300 years. This winds up being a niggling plot hole for me later.
When the android (Alita) is restored, the mechanic, professor, whatever you want to call him says she should eat (real food) to maintain her human brain. Well hold on doc. That brain is centuries old. Likely went an extended period of time without any nourishment. Her human brain should be dead by now. But whatever, we let it slide.
Here, the professor begins to play overprotective father. Normally I would dislike this but it’s worked in well enough that it’s not unbearable. There are only like 3 references to it and it’s sort-of left alone. And it’s understandable because Alita is reconstructed with the body he built for his own daughter. They could’ve worked this in a lot better than they did and really made the professor a good character. Instead he just sorta gets relegated to plot device.
Then there’s the romance which I’ll say right now – ruined this movie. It’s weird too because normally romance is sprinkled throughout culminating before the final scene but in this case they like sprinkle it in at the start and then WHOOPS dropped the whole $#@!ing can in right at the end. It winds up easily destroying a third to a half of the movie for me. It doesn’t make sense and as good as Rosa Salazar is at delivering most of her other lines, she’s horrible at delivering the romantic lines. That might be part of what killed it for me too. She sounds insincere. Like she learned how to deliver these lines from a children’s cartoon or something.
Alright, where does the movie shine. Luckily enough, the action scenes here feel really good. We’re talking B quality work here, occasionally A quality. They blew their load on the midfight though, and then things just went downhill from there. Like, any time Alita was battle angeling, I was all in. Give me more. The environment is cool enough to make me want to read the source material which I probably will after I’m done here.
Unfortunately, that’s probably the best praise I can offer for the movie because the rest of it is rather lame. The actual villain in the movie? Just a puppet. They end the movie with sequel bait. Disgusting. You give me 50% of a movie with at most 50% of that movie being decent? Just cut out the romance and take us to the real boss.
If the movie ended halfway through I’d give it a solid 4 out of 5. Really, the movie is only good when Alita is beating the $#@! out of something. There’s a scene where she practically plays the black knight from Monty Python… but wins. Honestly, best scene of the movie right there. The sportsball scene that came right afterward was meh. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I really wanted her boyfriend to sell her out. Glad the chump died.
And this is a minor complaint but they had a golden opportunity to do ‘[X] hits jukebox to start the music for a barfight’ scene and threw it away. Just threw it away. Come on, we all wanted it. You show me someone who says they didn’t and I’ll show you a goddamn liar.
So, the short version: The movie is excellent when it’s being what its source material probably is: action. Cyberpunk fighting robots. More please. The movie is terrible when it’s trying to be something it probably isn’t. It’s not a romance film. They don’t utilize plot threads properly. So many scenes would go purely to waste if the scenery itself didn’t salvage it. Ending on sequel bait is cruel, especially when you don’t place a peak right before it. I do not recommend this movie. Thanks for reading.