Family Review: ALITA- BATTLE ANGEL is a Gorgeous Mess5 min read

By Trina Boice

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?     

Directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron, this highly artistic collaboration was inspired by Yukito Kishiro’s graphic novel manga books called Motorball and Gunnm. A teenage cybernetic girl searches for her true identity and capability. Those who are familiar with the source material Battle Angel Alita Vol. 1 are definitely going to hope certain aspects of the story are handled correctly.

This Anime action is full of fantastic sci-fi special effects and impressive CGI world building that will make your eyes feel saturated by the end. It’s an action movie, romance story, and futuristic look at humanity.  

The budget for this Anime adaptation was close to $200 million!  As Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) says in the movie, “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Indeed.

IS IT ANY GOOD?  

James Cameron is a master at world-building. There are some really epic snapshot images. Alita’s world has been carefully crafted and it shows.  If you’ve read any of my movie reviews before, you know I LOVE details. This movie has tons of them. Itty bitty details that show you how much thought and attention was given to every frame. Love it!  The details and creativity of the design of the bounty hunters were fantastic and intricate. Ed Skrein/Zapan’s back design was especially impressive. The action and fight scenes are thrilling and extremely inventive.

Rosa Salazar voices the CGI Alita. Her facial expressions and movements are truly amazing and realistic. You almost forget she’s not a real actress on the screen. While her cybernetic body is impressive, the film also addresses her heart and soul.  Dr. Ido says, “Well, look at you. This is just a body. It is not good or bad. That part is up to you.” That caught my attention and made me think about how we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, feel about our bodies. They are gifts from a loving Heavenly Father who has given them to us to help us learn and grow in this life.  Our choices will be reflected in the health of that body. We consider our bodies as temples to house our spirits and they must be treated with respect and care.

Christoph Waltz always gives us an intriguing character in his films and is perfectly cast as the protective father/creator.  Mahershala Ali won awards for his roles in Moonlight and Green Book. In ALITA he plays Vector. It annoys me when people wear dark sunglasses day or night just to look cool; however, there is a scene later on that explains why he did that.  He, Jennifer Connelly, and Christoph Waltz are all Academy Award winners. Unfortunately, Jennifer Connolly didn’t have much to do. Her character was really bland and her hatred towards certain people didn’t really get explained.  Michelle Rodriguez offers a voice cameo. Another fun cameo appearance is by Edward Norton who plays the main villain, Nova. We don’t really learn much about him until the very end when the curtain is drawn back. Amazingly, Edward Norton never says a word, but I’m assuming he will in the sequel.  Yes, there WILL be a sequel. Another odd acting choice was Christoph Waltz’s helper, Nurse Gerhad, (played by Idara Victor) who just stood there and did nothing during the entire film.

If you’re unfamiliar with the manga stories and characters, you’ll hear a lot of new names for creatures, wars, and locations. It can get a little bit confusing without understanding the backstory. Some flashbacks in the movie help a little bit.  I always appreciate it when a movie explains why it has the title it does.

There is a tiny bit of humor, but I would have loved more.  It’s definitely a drama. There were a couple of editing issues that jolted me.  The movie was filmed in 3D and really should be seen in 3D to truly appreciate the visual magic.

You’re going to have a lot of questions after watching the movie.

IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS?    (PG-13)

James Cameron wanted this movie to be rated PG-13. While there is blood, it’s mostly blue, with only some red. There is, however, a lot of killing.  There are words like “crap”, name-calling, and 1 F-bomb. There is a lot of violence, fighting, and destruction. The red stripes Alita paints under her large eyes are from the blood of a dog that was killed.  There is talk of harvesting of body parts (dark subject matter). Alita quickly falls in love, kisses a human, and readily offers to rip out her cyber-heart for her new boyfriend. Not a smart choice, Alita! Your daughters might think that’s really romantic, so you might want to talk to them about healthy relationships.

ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?       

  • Self-discovery
  • Sacrifice
  • “You got to stay focused on your dream.” – Hugo (Keean Johnson)
  • “I do not stand by in the presence of evil.” – Alita (Rosa Salazar)  Alita refuses to accept the status quo, especially because it exists because of evil men who desire power above all else.  She is willing to risk her life to fight for good and the oppressed.
  • Female empowerment

Power.  Vector tells someone in the movie, “Personally, I’d rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.”

Trina Boice is an author of 23 books and teaches online for BYU-Idaho in the Pathway program.  She received the Young Mother of the Year honor in 2004, an award that completely amuses her 4 sons. She’s a popular international speaker in China and writes movie reviews at www.MovieReviewMom.com. You can find her books on Amazon, and at www.TrinasBooks.com

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