Erik Jimenez/Staff Writer
Live-action films based off of Japanese Anime shows have always had a tumultuous history whenever they are made by Hollywood. Infamous examples like “Dragonball: Evolution,” “Death Note” and “Ghost in the Shell” send shivers down the spine of any fan that remembers the movies pure awfulness and has made them give up on all hope in having a decent western anime adaptation.
It almost feels like if a good movie could be made out of an anime, it would have to have a great creative team behind it, like say… James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Otaku of all ages, the wait is over.
Based on the manga series of the same name by Yukito Kishiro, “Alita: Battle Angel” takes place in 2563, 300 years after a catastrophic intergalactic war called “The Fall.” In the junkyard city of Iron City Alita (Rosa Salazar), a cyborg that is the last of her kind, is rebuilt and recovered by Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz), a scientist and part-time Hunter-Warrior—someone who helps the people of Iron City by recreating limbs with robotic pieces and hunting down criminals.
Alita wishes to protect the innocent people from the evil and decides to personally take up the mantle of Iron City’s protector, while also helping her friends get enough money to buy themselves a way into the utopian city of Zalem. The city floats above Iron City and is ruled over by Nova, a being from Alita’s mysterious past who wants her dead.
Cameron co-wrote the script and his writing stands out from the dialogue given to the female characters—his tendency for strong women in his writing continues here. Salazar plays Alita beautifully thanks to the visual effects given to her motion capture by Rodriguez.
While Cameron is involved in the production of this film he gave the director’s chair to Robert Rodriguez, due to Cameron wishing to focus on his Avatar sequels. Thus, the action scenes and pacing and attention to detail all signify Rodriguez’s tendencies. There is even a cameo from one of Rodriguez’s frequent collaborators.
Rodriguez is already a master of visuals with cheaper budgets, and having an “Avatar”-sized budget is like giving a child all the toys he could ever want. It may be Cameron’s script but it’s Rodriguez’s movie.
The acting is stellar all around too. Waltz gives the character of Ido a warmth to his character that allows him to be a Gepetto-esque character to Alita’s Pinocchio. Keenan Johnson plays Hugo, Alita’s love interest, and he has great chemistry with Salazar. Mahershala Ali plays the villainous Vector, an entrepreneur who works for Nova and rigs matches in Motorball (a fictional sport which provides some of the film’s most exciting scenes.)
Ed Skrien and Jackie Earl Hayley also play two villainous cyborgs that frequently come into conflict with Alita and their design and motion-capture performances provide some of the films best visual moments.
If you’re a fan of Cameron, Rodriguez, or anime in general, this is a must see on the biggest screen possible.