REVIEW: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ is a live-action manga that does not disappoint

Don’t judge a movie (and a manga) by its title! Alita: Battle Angel may not sound too appealing for some, but this cyberpunk action film based on Gunmm – a manga by Yukito Kishiro, is one to watch out for! Basing our critique on the graphic novel, the creators behind the film were successful in producing photo-realistic versions of specific frames in the series.

Alita’s awakening (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Setting standards a few notches higher in giving a cinematic experience, James Cameron and Jon Landau (producers of Alita: Battle Angel), along with director Robert Rodriguez were successful in blending the bleeding edge of digital tools with the art of epic, human storytelling. Albeit the film has a few loopholes here and there that causes disconnect with some characters, it remains to be a must-watch for those who want to see 2 hours worth of visually appealing scenes that are at par with the likes of Avatar.

Rosa Salazar as Alita in ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ from 20th Century Fox

It’s quite hard to separate the CGI from real people due to the meticulous details of every character and setting. We watched the advance screening of the movie on IMAX and it was well worth our time! You can even see the pores on Alita’s face. Promise!

Scene from ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ from 20th Century Fox

Before anything else, here’s a summary of the action-packed journey that you’re about to see: The mesmerizing adventure of Alita (Rosa Salazar) begins as cyberphysician Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz) makes a scrapyard find that will change his life and Iron City forever: the discarded “cyber-core” of a girl whose body may be broken but her human brain is still barely pulsing with life. Ido cannot abandon her. He begins to restore this mysterious cyborg and discovers a second chance at fatherhood—a chance to watch her learn, grow and taste the wondrous pleasures of life for the first time with wide-eyed excitement. But the sweet, curious girl Ido names Alita hides many secrets. When Alita inadvertently reveals she possesses unique long lost fighting skills, it becomes clear she must carve out her own destiny. For even if the art of the battle was long ago hardwired into her, Alita must discover in her soul the reasons to fight.

‘Alita: Battle Angel’ also stars Keean Johnson, Jorge Lenderborg, Jr., and Lana Condor. (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Setting a possibility in the not-so-distant future, the cyborgs in the movie are not robots; they’re humans enhanced by biotechnological components built into the body.  Today, the cutting edge of medical prosthetics research is pioneering new ways for the human brain to both directly control and sense artificial limbs. The movie brings about the fusion of mind and machine making a quantum leap that grants humans the promise not just of restoration but of total reinvention.

A playful innovator who enjoyed blowing past conventional boundaries from the start, director Robert Rodriguez had already been a 3D pioneer—his Spy Kids 3D became the first all-digital movie in 2003, Now, he was like a kid let loose in the ultimate cinematic candy store.

Scene from ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Tech has always been a big part of what I do,” says Rodriguez in an interiew. “But with this film, I knew I would have a chance to go exponentially further because Jim has already innovated so many different technologies for visualizing, pre-visualizing and making 3D films.  I took it as a real chance to learn. I knew I’d be really challenged, which I thought was fantastic.”

What Alita: Battle Angel lacks from our perspective is a better storytelling. For those who have no idea how the manga turned out, there are still a multitude of questions that were left unanswered – but maybe that’s also what producers wanted the moviegoers to feel, especially with the cliffhanger at the end. Part of me wanted to see more of Alita’s relationships with other people to bloom, but it seems like it was half-baked.

(L-R): Cristoph Waltz as Ido and Rosa Salazar as Alita in ‘Alita: Battle Angel’

At its heart were two love stories:  a love story between Alita and Ido, the father figure who rebuilt her, and a love story between Alita and Hugo (Keean Johnson), a street kid and cyborg jacker who never thought he’d fall in love with a cyborg,” Landaue shares in an interview.

Made-for-the-big-screen, Alita: Battle Angel is a 20th Century Fox film that is currently available in cinemas nationwide. It’s in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX, but we highlight suggest that you watch through IMAX!

Watch the trailer here:

Enjoy the show and do let us know if you liked it or not by leaving a comment on Manila Millennial‘s Facebook and Instagram pages. For more updates about upcoming movies, visit:

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