“Alita: Battle Angel”: Young Adult Cyberpunk

This is going to be point-by-point in order to be at least somewhat coherent, because OMG I’M SO HYPED!!!

  • It’s a movie about a badass (SO BADASS) girl that I can’t wait to show it to my daughter.
  • But never mind her, I’m sure MY WIFE would even like it!
  • It all starts with those eyes… Alita’s first scenes kept me focused on the eyes, the hair, the movement, and I was a little taken aback with the uncanny valley feeling, but then I realized she IS a cyborg. She is SUPPOSED to be uncanny!
  • But as the movie kept on going, either it got much better and she became completely believable and natural (who knows, maybe this even was on purpose? Make her more human the more she learns about the world?), or I just got used to it.
  • Because Alita is just so natural, so believable, so sincere… That I quickly absorbed her character, and along with it, everyone around, and the truly gorgeous world.
  • Oh, hey, Christoph Waltz is once again living in around a ruined church and interfaces with a machine with interfaces around a pillar in a beautiful cyberunk city! At least this movie is comprehensible, because kill me if I know what “Zero Theorem” was about…
  • There are so many great actors in it – Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Jeff Fahey in a small role – and they are all as well so invested and genuine in this crazy story.
  • Which, by the way, managed to surprise me a couple of times by not going where I thought it would. Characters I expected to die did not, other who I expected to betray did not.
  • But besides that, the story is really not at all crazy, just as the world is not that original. If you write it all down it’s a pretty typical cyberpunk world and a pretty straightforward plot.
  • It’s “Blade Runner” for teenagers. Up to and including romancing a cyborg subplot.
  • But with more amazing action scenes. Really, how invested I am in action scenes is a litmus test for the movie itself, because how closely I follow Tom Cruise’s escapades in the last “Mission: Impossible” or the 40-minute battle in the first “Avengers” compared to utterly forgettable CGI mess of “Justice League” or the previous-to-last “Mission: Impossible” reflects exactly what I think of those entire movies.
  • “Alita” wins it all because it’s as sincere as her big eyes. As opposed to cynicism and calculation plaguing so many other contemporary blockbusters, from DCEU’s poor attempts at toppling Marvel’s rule over comic book movies through “Ready Player One”‘s constant pandering to eternal pop culture nerds like me to even “Frozen”‘s Olaf and Sven and terrible parents with their terrible death. Alita’s big CGI eyes and her shiny CGI body invokes such genuine feelings I wouldn’t believe Robert Rodriguez would be capable of.
  • This even makes me ignore how much of the dialogue is infodump, exposition, cringy teenager banter or stating the obvious, because the movie is so charming.
  • As well as I wasn’t bothered by the perfect usage of the only one “fuck” allowed in a PG-13. Speaking of which…
  • This is a PG-13 movie? Because it’s BRUTAL. It doesn’t fuck about, I’ll tell ya. To quote Samuel M.F.L. Jackson, “people get JACKED in this movie!”
  • Dogs too. Sorry.
  • The movie just kept ramping it up. It changed genres several times and it got each and every one of them perfectly! It’s a family drama, then a teenage romance, then crime fighting, then superhero, then… a sports movie? Then teenagers uncovering secrets… So much is happening…
  • …yet, funnily enough, with each change instead of being more and more cluttered it was getting better, from fun to good to awesome to fricken EPIC.
  • And I appreciate it not overstaying its welcome. It’s solid 2 hours and it gets so much done within that time in the era where not even Marvel or Star Wars can get under two and a half (not to mention fucking Hobbit…). There was a point where I felt a tiniest nudge of fatigue, and… the movie ended right then and there!
  • At first I wished it ended more catharthic, but then I realized this means there’s going to be more of Alita. And remember, Rodriguez is the guy who’d made, like, four or five “Spy Kids” movies, so YES PLEASE MORE OF THAT RIGHT HERE I’LL WAIT.

You can read this and other reviews on my Letterboxd profile.

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