Alita: Battle Angel
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy
Fox | PG13 – 122 min. – $24.99 | July 23, 2019
Date Published: 07/26/2019 | Author: The Movieman
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE — 3.5/5
Plot Synopsis: Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita (ROSA SALAZAR) is found in the scrap yard of Iron City by Ido (CHRISTOPH WALZ), a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past. She also gains a friend in Hugo (KEEAN JOHNSON), though unbeknownst to her, he sells cyber parts on the black market. Meanwhile, a man named Vector (MAHERSHALA ALI) and his assistant, and Ido’s ex-wife, Chiren (JENNIFER CONNELLY), are involved with something sinister happening in the shadows.
Review: Alita: Battle Angel is based upon a popular Manga but having really no background in the source material, not sure how it compares or how fans felt about this adaptation which was co-scripted by James Cameron (who also served as a producer) and helmed by Robert Rodriguez, an odd choice especially given the scope and budget which was reportedly around $175 million, if not more. Personally, and I guess surprisingly, I thought this movie was rather good even with a few drawbacks, mostly on the technical front.
First the good, while the story itself isn’t exactly deep or even intricate making for just a fun, breezy piece of entertainment and enough character development where you can actually give a damn what happens to them. Rosa Salazar, even while using motion capture, does really well in the lead and truthfully, I have been a modest fan since I first saw her in the Maze Runner (now defunct) franchise.
I also enjoyed Christoph Waltz’s performance and it’s nice to see him in a more heroic light versus playing the villainous character that he’s usually cast. Even relative newcomer Keean Johnson had some good scenes opposite Salazar even if the character is rather simple. Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali, great actors in their own rights, were fine but had really limited characters while Ed Skrein seems to take any antagonistic role and he was solid here with some amusing moments.
Now, on the downside, the problems I had with Alita are on the, of all things considering Cameron’s involvement and the massive budget, while the cityscape was fine, although something I’ve seen numerous times in the dystopian-future movies, but the decision to give Alita herself anime eyes was kind of bizarre. It would be one thing if everyone else had similar features, but it was just her and frankly, at least in the first half, was rather distracting though I managed to try to overlook it for the remainder, however never quite looked right and especially distracting when no one else acknowledges it. Beyond her eyes, I also noticed her hair seemed like it was CGI and didn’t flow like natural hair would. Again, distracting. Why?
There were other elements along these lines, most notably the flashback scenes where we see Alita (aka 99) fighting some war alongside Michelle Rodriguez, doing a favor for Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron whom she both worked with in the past. In any case, the characters shown in these sequences look like CGI figures, something out of a high-quality video game.
In the end, and even with all the more technical problems I had which were more of a distraction than bad per se, I did generally enjoy Alita: Battle Angel. No, it doesn’t break new ground in the genre and it does commit the cardinal sin of leaving it open-ended for a sequel, one unlikely thanks to a lackluster box office (and doubtful Disney will invest into some sort of mini-series for their Disney+ streaming service). But still liked it enough to give it a recommendation.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.75/5
This release comes with a glossy and reflective slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy which does contain exclusive content which I will outline at the end of this section. However, the digital exclusives do not factor into my rating, I only rate based on what is on the disc itself…
ALITA’S WORLD is a collection of graphic novel-like animated stories focusing on The Fall (5:05), Iron City (3:19), What It Means to be a Cyborg (2:28) and Rules of the Game (2:52).
From Manga to Screen (20:47) examines how the source material was adapted for feature film. Includes interviews with Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron, Rosa Salazar, Yukito Kishiro and producer Jon Landau,.
Evolution of Alita (19:43) takes a closer look at the character and casting Salazar in the role. Includes behind-the-scenes footage of the actress’s screen test, mo-cap and training videos. Also goes into her design and the choices they made.
Motorball (6:02) details the sport that is prominent in the film.
London Screening Q&A (26:38) features Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron, Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz and Jennifer Connelly, and Jon Landau serving as moderator, answering questions submitted by fans.
10 Minute Cooking School: Chocolate (5:28) is a fun staple of any of Rodriguez’s home video releases and this one is great.
2005 Art Compilation (2019) (14:20) – I’m not entirely sure what this is, more artwork set against a narration outlying the plot of the movie (and I guess the Manga its based off of).
Scenes Deconstruction (10:47) offers viewers to switch from “original”, “animation stage” and “final” shots.
Oddly enough, Dua Lipa’s music video for “Swan Song” was included…
DIGITAL COPY EXCLUSIVES
Streets of Iron City (17:00) – Director Robert Rodriguez gives a set tour of Iron City, with cast and crew insights, and a behind-the-scenes look at the city’s creation.
Allies and Adversaries (TRT 25:25) – meet the allies and adversaries that Alita encounters in Iron City including Zapan (3:57), Dr. Dyson Ido (2:42), Grewishka (3:48), Nyssiana (2:16), Romo (2:09), McTeague (2:01), Vector (2:48), Chiren (2:56) and Hugo (2:48).
2016 Art Reel (11:00) – Lightstorm Entertainment and Robert Rodriguez’s 2016 compilation of concept art reflecting the design of the final film.
Theatrical Trailers – Kind of lame the trailers are only available on the digital copy.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
|Alita: Battle Angel fires onto Blu-ray presented with a 2.39 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture does look great, detail is sharp and colors vibrant even with the darker tone of the dystopian future. There weren’t any noticeable instances of artifacts, aliasing or banding. That said, nothing eye-popping about the video and it isn’t quite reference quality work, still looks decent enough.|
AUDIO – 4.75/5
|The disc comes with a strong and robust DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track (still have to wonder why Fox wouldn’t just port over the 4K UHD’s Dolby Atmos track), which is fairly impressive showcasing the crowded Iron City and really comes to life during the action sequences. Dialogue also comes through the center channel with good clarity.|
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Alita: Battle Angel is a flawed sci-fi action-adventure flick that might not really break new ground in terms of the story or even the effects work which I found was a bit lacking and even distracting. Even so, I found it pretty entertaining and Rosa Salazar shined brightly in the lead. The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack offers up great video/audio transfers and a good selection of bonus features.
Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.