Review of Alita: Battle Angel


Oh no, another Hollywood live action adaptation of a beloved manga. If this turns out like Death Note I might just stab myself with a Panga. Thankfully I am pleased to report that Alita: Battle Agent turned out better than Dragonball Evolution. I don’t recommend that you watch the Americanized Goku flick, unless you have a strong constitution. The film is produced and co-written by the bloke who directed True Lies. It features a female cyborg warrior, who battles against a scientist who resides in the skies.

Alita: Battle Angel takes place in the year 2563. It’s set in a dilapidated metropolis that’s almost as rundown as New Jersey. Centuries ago a major war devastated Earth and left most of humanity living in slums. The wealthy elite relocated to a flying city, from where they now look down at the poor bums. Our tale begins in a scrapyard, where Doctor Dyson Ido finds a badly damaged cyborg who he later names Alita. Rescued from death, Ido gifts Alita with a new prosthetic body that possess the speed and agility of a cheetah. 

The best thing about Battle Angel are the visual effects and action scenes. I never once got bored of watching the heroine tear up the enemy machines. Over the course of two hours she battles various bounty hunters and competes against gladiators in a sport named Motor Ball. The CGI, fight choreography and talent of director Robert Rodriguez delivered many an exciting brawl. Sadly however the script’s pacing could be a lot better. Alita changes from an innocent amnesiac into a battle hardened revolutionary just a few short moments after we first met her.

It’s a similar story with Alita and scrap dealer Hugo’s forced romance. They go from acquaintances to passionate lovers, faster than characters in an adult game like Rance. One can only speculate this is due to a 120 minute film condensing too much material from the comic book. The end result is a movie were characters and plot take a backseat to how great the special effects look. Shame, as I was expecting more depth from a feature whose cast list contained talents such as Mahershala Ali. Jennifer Connelly likewise has little to do, although seeing her in nothing but underwear stimulated my peepee.

Although not perfect I can still recommend this release from 20th Century Fox. I will forgive the superficial writing as every fight sequence rocks. When compared to other anime/manga adaptations Alita: Battle Angel is a hit. The creators put in some real effort, unlike the makers of Dragonball Evolution who produced a steaming pile of shit. The finale teases a potential sequel, which in my opinion would be really cool. A poor box office may however deny us from ever seeing a follow up… damn, capitalism can be so cruel.


22 thoughts on “Review of Alita: Battle Angel

  1. Nice summary! Personally, Alita Battle Angel is one of my favorite movies of all time. It was released quite a while ago however, so it’s kinda late to post about it this time of year.

    • I think Alita came out a few months ago on DVD. It was always on my “to do list” to check out, but I got distracted with superhero films, my video games backlog and summer anime releases. Having too much entertainment to consume is a nice problem to have.

  2. I’m hoping to pick this up soon since it’s going to be on sale. Even though this one wasn’t a success at the box office (partly because it was so expensive to make), hopefully other companies/studios follow suit and create good anime-inspired Hollywood flicks.

    • It’s a shame that the special effect costs played a factor in the movie not having a great box office return, especially as the visuals were the thing that impressed me the most. Hopefully Alita’s finances don’t discourage studios from putting this much effort/budget into future adaptations. It also doesn’t help that the movie came out around the same time as Captain Marvel. From what I hear Disney was taking up a lot of cinema screens with that film, which limited ticket sales for other flicks.

  3. It’s nice to see a decent western live-action anime adaptation, something I never thought I’d see before, and then a decent video game adaptation in that Detective Pikachu movie. I guess things are taking a turn for the better. I hope. I wouldn’t expect this director to produce a piece of shit movie anyway. Jennifer Connelly in her underwear is also a nice plus for the audience.

  4. Between the Western adaptations of classic manga, I did hear this was one of the better ones. I’m not interested in seeing it, but it does make me want to track down the manga.

    • I am tempted to pick up the manga, next time it goes on a Comixology sale. Despite liking the movie the story felt rushed, so I am curious to see if the books are more fleshed out in that regard.

  5. Hello The Otaku Judge,

    Dragon Ball Evolution was so bad that I could not finish watching that piece of feces.

    I have never seen the anime (as far as I know) or this movie yet, and I would not mind watching them; and this seems like it is better than the Ghost In The Shell live action movie which was my least favorite Ghost In The Shell anything in the movie/TV franchise.

    -John Jr

    • Dragonball Evolution was a sad case of wasted potential. If done right a movie based on DBZ could have been a big hit. Despite the hate however, the movie is almost so bad that it is good. It’s the type of movie you can laugh at. One of my friends is a huge Dragonball fan so it amuses me no end to see how how he rages whenever I mention that film.

      Ghost in the Shell’s live action movie is inferior to the animated stuff, but I have some respect for it. Despite its flaws at least they tried. They hired a big name actress and put some effort into the visuals, so in some ways it is similar to Alita. The movie could have been better, but when compared to other poor manga adaptations it was better than most.

      • Hello The Otaku Judge,

        I agree that it was a very sad case of wasted potential, but I would have to see the entire movie to decide if I think that it is so bad that it is good; I can only imagine how much it must enrage him. 😀

        They did try with the Ghost In The Shell live action movie, it was just empty and missing some things, I think that they should have just made another animated movie in my opinion.

        Thank you for responding,
        -John Jr

  6. I’ve actively avoided this one because…. actually I’m not sure – I think the trailer put me off. There is a Korean film “The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion” (reviewed on my site 😉 ) that tells a distantly similar story; shame it is a digital release only…

    BTW – no score this time?

    • Oops. I forgot all about the rating. Will add it to the post now. For the record, I would give this movie three stars. I am surprised to hear that you haven’t checked out Alita, given how you are both an anime and movie reviewer.

      Shame that the Witch is a digital only release. It seems to have better average review scores than Alita. At least digital stores allow films that wouldn’t be profitable on DVD, over here, to find an audience. The same happens with niche video games. Many don’t get a physical release, but you can legally download via online services.

      • I know, it should have piqued my interest coming from a Japanese source, but when I saw the trailer at the cinema and it just left me cold.

        I can’t put my finger on it but sometimes when a trailer just show you a rush if images that make a film look like every other genre film you can tell if it’s something you want to invest in, and I didn’t get that here. Maybe one day but I’m in no hurry.

  7. I loved watching the action sequences and the story line proceeded pretty nicely throughout 2/3rd of the movie . However the ending of the movie didn’t quite please me , because a lot o things happened to fast and in an unorganised way(especially the part where Hugo dies in his cyborg form) . The action sequences were dope and seems like there’s going to be a sequel . It took me some time to like it , and I would surely watch a sequel to it .

    • Your opinion mirrors mine. Great action, but the movie suffers from rushing things – especially in the final act. Hopefully the sequel gets made. James Cameron was hoping to make a trilogy, but who knows if the studio will get enough funding for that. The impression I got from online chatter is that the movie has a fan base, but didn’t make enough income to turn a profit.

  8. I didn’t know what to expect learning about Alita: Battle Angel but it sounds decent enough, I’m not the biggest fan of live action adaptions for anime but I’ll definitely take anything that over Dr******** Evolution. I can’t even bring myself to type Dragonball’s good name alongside that movie.

    • When it comes to poor anime adaptations Death Note gets my vote. Dragonball was bad, but at least I had some fun laughing at how terrible it was. I think Fox picked up the rights to Dragonball, back when it was all the rage, but didn’t do anything with them. They then rushed out that turd, before the rights elapsed, to cash in. What a waste.

  9. Definitely sounds solid, I’ve been meaning to watch this one. It looks like a lot of fun and it’s too bad the box office didn’t go a little smoother. More anime/manga film adaptions would be awesome to see. At least it wasn’t as loose an adaption as good ole DB Evolution so hopefully companies won’t stop trying

    • This movie isn’t perfect, but much better than other anime adaptations we have seen over the years. I am bummed about the box office, as it will discourage studios from investing money into other anime related live action projects. You can’t do anime style action on the cheap, as DB Evolution proved.

      • Yeah without a solid budget everything will just look fake. I know we’re supposed to be getting a Bleach movie at some point and it’ll also need a big budget to get the Hollows and Bankai effects just right. Hopefully at least one studio will take the risk. (And hopefully it pays off)

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