It has been a minute since we heard that Battle Angel Alita was set to get a manga film treatment. And of course, given the likes of Ghost In The Shell, we were not exactly twitching for another remake, per
Does she soar or is she forever stuck in the landfill of broken hopes and dreams. Let us see.
One Man’s trash…
Ido christens her with the name Alita, after his deceased disabled daughter. And she is brought back to life, with no memory of her past, or her purpose. But she does love chocolate. That’s as good as any a start.
It is however in the heat of battle does lucid memories return to her, entrenched in battle on the moon. Storming the celestial cities that floated mockingly over the dregs of the land-dwelling populace. And even as Alita discovers her innate ability to fight in an ancient android-based martial called Panzer Kunst, she finds that her
Alita soon finds herself on a road of self-discovery, one that is tumultuous in every sense. And whatever the outcome, one, mantra steady beats out of her mechanical heart…
“I do not stand by in the presence of evil.”
Flashbacks or Projectorbacks
Maybe it’s an android thing, but Alita’s ‘flashbacks’ are rarely flashes. Damn near whole sequences. The first one comes in her scrap with some unsavoury types who ambushed Dr. Ido during his nightshift as a bounty hunter. Gotta make those papes.
Alita was tracking the good doctor when he went out at night because she, like all good women, swan-dived into the conclusion that Ido was a serial killer of women that was on the loose. It was, in fact,
Alita, armed with a body never meant for combat, makes easy work of the goons even as her reactions to their attacks were more reflexive than deliberate. Alita, in the time and space it takes to execute a descending kick that could disarm (literally) the colossus-sized machination Grewishka, has a vivid flashback of a battle on the surface of the moon. Arm-to-arm with comrades, playing some serious laser tag. And Alita finds out her name was 99. I know, needed to speed the narrative along. But still. It, however, was a lovely sequence. All space battles are. Especially when they involve Martians, which she is, as a sentient weapon for the United Republic of Mars, or URM.
Panzer Kunst. Can we say this is a brawny, bad-ass name for a branch of made-up martial arts? And by the looks of
The animation was good and I felt the design kept true to the original manga, though some of the heads of the mechanisation felt too VFX-y, if that makes any sense. Or, better put, the juxtaposition felt more rigid and unblended at points where faces were transfixed to machines.
I follow the guy that did the storyboards for the Motorball sequence on Instagram. Pretty awesome. And this
Aside from bountyhunting, Motorball seems to be the only way people can make any pecuniary advancement. Even Dr. Ido took part in this, until a drug-addled contestant he mechanically modified ended up killing his disabled daughter. So Ido ended up serving the community to pay his pennance. And his wife… well, she started chasing the prestige money and wealth promised by Motorball. Which meant working for Vector.
‘That one black guy in that part in that movie’
As a guy that enjoys film, hell, even making them when I have the time and money and patience, their are certain things I hate. Non-nuanced social commentary. Like telling a black guy to get over a 300-year old feud between the Mars people and the Earth people. Hm, sounds vaguely familiar. It could be worse, we guess. Clint Eastwood could have directed.
And not it’s been 300 years and the oppressive structures that govern the Scrapyard after the great war still exist. It’s not ancient history if it is still current. Rant over.
The Sex Doll Invasion is Coming
Okay, fears aside, the emotive range for Alita was surprisingly great. Her angst, pain and fortitude radiated in certain scenes. Which made her search for innate power such a fulfilling watch. And seeing her take her literal beating heart Aztec-style to make a boys wish of a richer life come true… is hella naive. Yeah, Alita, that was pretty intense. And you saw how dude started briefly salivating at the thought of selling your parts for a chance to go hobnobbing with some anti-gravity socialites. Girls
But to bring it all back to the sex dolls, it’s hard not to make these comparisons when you think about sci-fi film characters like Blade Runner 2049’s Joi. She likens her self to trash and being an “insignificant little girl”, she enters instant puberty when she discovers a new body in a long-sunken Martian warship. Hella flexibility. We’re sure PornHub has like a whole category dedicated to this. Like… sub Droid? Of course, we sense there is a feminist argument somewhere there needling towards the idea that women are built for one thing. Even if that one thing is to do battle with the face of an angel.
This is the Achilles’ heel of the blockbuster today. There is that intrinsic need to add on trilogies and universes that will see spin-offs and nexuses that will map and fan out to put a constant drain on our pockets.
Done well, a film should be able to stand as a solitary masterpiece and as a golden thread woven in the tapestry of an engrossing series. Alita: Battle Angel… is none of these. This film felt more like an introduction to Alita and her self-discovery, mixed with a bit of sports movie magic. All of which pointed to a sequel coming. Planned or hoped for.
Alita’s story had no real twists to make it captivating. I guess finding out
Alita: Battle Angel felt quite respectful to the manga. And Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron get some brownie points for that. It, however, falls short of a cohesive
- True to the manga aesthetically
- Alita design and emotive range
- Great fight sequence
- Sport movie? Self-discovery? Proletariat uprising?
- Unfulfilling as a solitary narrative
- Nothing memorable in the sound/music department
- To many 'baddies' and none were a great standout
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