Reviewing this movie has been tough and I don’t know why.
A two-hour silver screen adaptation of a Japanese cyberpunk manga series. The movie doesn’t feel long until it ends. If you didn’t know the manga existed (like me) then you’re not really missing much except maybe part of the story or some background. I don’t want to discuss the events in the movie since it is still new, and some may have not seen it yet.
Visually the movie uses a lot of CGI and Alita herself seems out of place no matter how human they try to make her appear. She almost looks like an CGI anime character. Her appearance also is very clean given how dirty the city looks. The cyberpunk settling is stimulating and not dry while also begging for more to be explained. The entire idea of the floating city Zalem is interesting as well. It is used like a beacon of a better life for those working in a crowed surface city. A beacon that becomes the downfall of one of the characters.
Story telling is consistent but there are a lot of side stories and moving parts which all tie together and help the story develop. It feels a bit grownup and childish while throwing in some romance which almost feels a bit teenage. A lot of characters get introduced and some get killed off quickly. Basically, Alita is trying to get her memory back and she quickly gets some of it back to relearn her fighting abilities, but it leaves it open to the age old saying of ‘more than meets the eye’. I say that because there must be more to the story than we are exposed to.
Acting in this film seemed to be mostly done on a greenscreen with a lot of CGI support. Not a terribly bad thing and it is done well. When they use a real set, it blends almost seamlessly. A few minor spots where the acting seems awkward, but they can easily be overlooked.
I only really spotted one moment in the film that didn’t make sense. It could have been a mistake or something I missed. When Alita scores in Motorball with Hugo, the guy with the huge hair is seen going up the ramp even after Alita knocked him down before the camera cuts back to him laying on the ground. A minor detail and really the only time I spotted something like that. Kind of hard to make a mistake or filming error when most of the film is CGI.
The ending of the film builds up to this great moment before cutting to credits. Personally, I didn’t like that but after you get over your disappointment, you’ll realize you’ve been sitting for two hours. It leaves it open to make more movies but also feels a bit setup and flat. I’d be concerned because if the first movie wasn’t super awesome then we all know how sequels usually turn out.
My take, three out of five stars for Alita. As a critic and a movie goer, I was torn between enjoying it and over analyzing it. It has those moments which make your hair stand up, but they didn’t last long. Most of it was probably image driven versus the acting (for me anyway). Kind of hard when it is all one big green screen.
If you haven’t seen it yet and need something to do, then I would say go see it in theaters while you can. The sound system and big screen alone make it worthwhile. Can’t say the effect will be the same on your home setup. If you like the whole cyberpunk vibe then it is a must see. Scenery and imagery are my main things when it comes to movies like this. If it is not your thing then believe me, you’re not missing anything.