Don’t let the big cartoon eyes fool you, “Alita: Battle Angel” is a legitimately entertaining and action-packed flick worthy of braving the winter cold to take in. This time of year is normally a quiet month at the box office, as most people don’t want to go out in the snow to take in a movie. So it’s usually a telling indicator when a movie studio puts out a supposedly big film in February. But “Alita: Battle Angel” defies those expectations for the better, delivering a visually splendid action thriller.
It helps that legendary film director James Cameron has been trying to make this movie happen for more than a decade.
Taking place in the year 2563, “Alita: Battle Angel” is the story of a little cyborg girl pulled from a giant junk heap by a kindly scientist, who manages to get her working again and gives her a nice new body. Torn between the parts of her that are still human and the parts of her that were built, Alita heads out into Iron City to make some friends, fight some enemies and discover her destiny.
First and foremost, “Alita: Battle Angel” is an action movie with pretty spectacular CGI special effects. Alita the character is a fully digital person, played through motion capture by actor Rosa Salazar. Alita is both warm and friendly and a wickedly powerful fighter, which is a refreshing combination. She easily carries the whole film as a sympathetic hero, with Salazar putting real emotion and depth into her CGI character.
You’ll get used to her oversized eyes easily enough.
The gimmick of “Alita: Battle Angel” is that a lot of people are part robot, and the variety is really fascinating. Some people are poor factory workers who can only afford a big, clunky metal replacement when they lose an arm. Some people are bounty hunters, who modify their bodies with robotic weapons to make themselves cooler. There’s a nice mix of people in the film, which helps flesh out the weirder sci-fi elements.
This also makes the action scenes really cool. Whether Alita is fighting a bar full of half-robot bounty hunters or she’s competing in Iron City’s violent Motorball circuit, the fluid motions and hectic energy never disappoint. The movie takes full advantage of the fact that almost everybody is completely CGI, so they go to some wild extremes with the action. The movie also doesn’t get too confusing in trying to explain its world. It’s all pretty easy to grab onto and understand.
“Alita: Battle Angel” is worth a trek out into the cold to see. The action is entertaining and the Battle Angel herself is easily the star of the show.