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You know... she's more than just a big set of eyes… Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the "Top 10 Things Alita: Battle Angel Did Right."
We all saw the early critical praise for this new Robert Rodriguez flick, but did it really live up to the hype? Well, we finally saw the movie, and we think it’s safe to say that Alita had more than a few tricks up her sleeve. Caution, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you’re in for a few spoilers.
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The whole desolate metropolis living in the shadow of an upper-class community has been done nearly a million times before, and obviously it comes with a healthy dose of social allegory. While the original manga takes place somewhere near Kansas City, Missouri, Director Robert Rodriguez and writer-producer James Cameron cleverly established Panama City to be the location for the film’s story, adding a sense of culture and personality to Iron City that’s somewhat lacking in the source material.
Break-Out Star Rosa Salazar
Some may recognize this up-and-coming star from her turns in the Divergent and Maze Runner series, or her performance on the small screen in American Horror Story: Murder House. Luckily, Rosa Salazar got to show off her skills in a leading role here, albeit with a little help courtesy of Weta Digital. Salazar’s motion-capture work is truly groundbreaking, and though the majority of her character is shown through computer animation, Salazar shows she’s more than worthy of a much bigger star in the movie industry.
Through his work on movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Tom Holkenborg, also known as Junkie XL, has more than made a name for himself as a film composer to watch. His work for Alita only cements him as one of the hardest working musicians in Hollywood, as his arrangements for the film only compliment the sprawling, epic scale of Iron City. This is only highlighted in the movie’s many fight scenes, where the score compliments the visuals perfectly.
Keeping Us Wanting More
It’s always annoying when movies try to shoehorn in cliffhangers in the hopes that they’ve got a potential franchise on their hands. While Alita’s ending, which sets up a greater villain in Edward Norton’s Nova, could easily feel this way, the movie itself is satisfying enough to make its cliffhanger worthwhile, and we can’t wait to see the inevitable face-off between the heroic hunter/warrior and the mysterious Nova. Not to mention, the film left us with just enough unanswered questions that will hopefully be answered in a follow-up!
It’s rare that a genre blockbuster features performances to write home about, but what else do you expect with Alita’s all-star cast. We’ve already mentioned Rosa Salazar’s career-best performance as Alita, and we’ll get to some of the villains in a second, but the impressive performances don’t stop there. Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ido is a major highlight, acting as a father figure to Alita and bringing much of the emotional depth to the film. While the film may not be winning any acting Oscars anytime soon, it’s certainly refreshing to see a movie of this kind recognize the importance of great actors.
In a setting as grim as Iron City, it’s no wonder there are more than a few baddies that caught our attention. Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, and Eiza González all play characters that we loved to hate, but it’s the main antagonists that kept us glued to the edge of our seat through the movie’s runtime. Mahershala Ali shows off some impressive range as both Vector and Nova, and the appearance of Edward Norton as the latter’s true form definitely left us wanting to see how the highly decorated actor can pull off a ruthless villain.
When you’ve got James Cameron attached to produce your upcoming sci-fi flick, you know you’re in good hands… at least when it comes to CG visuals. While we’re all patiently waiting to see what Cameron has in store for us in the Avatar sequels, Alita: Battle Angel more than keeps us tied over in the visuals department. Similar to Avatar, it’s a film that needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible, and it’s also a rare case where the 3D actually adds to the overall experience. But don’t just take our word for it…
Violent Action Scenes
Some might see the PG-13 rating that Alita: Battle Angel was tagged with and be disappointed. Luckily, Robert Rodriguez more than pushed the boundaries of what’s allowed with this more conservative grading. From decapitations to bots getting ripped clean in half, it’s clear that Rodriguez pulled from the violent themes of his past movies for this new feature. The Motorball sequences in particular will get your adrenaline pumping, while a scene involving a dog might have more than a few people clenching their armrests. Plus, the movie’s got one of the best uses of an F-bomb in our recent memory, so there’s that...
Doing the Manga & Anime Justice
Anime and Hollywood have long had a troubled relationship. Dragonball: Evolution, Death Note, and Ghost in the Shell all failed in trying to bring their respective stories to the mainstream. Fortunately, Alita: Battle Angel might just succeed where these other movies failed, using the original source materials as a jumping off point, rather than trying to remake the entire story with American actors. The filmmakers drew from different points within the manga’s timeline to create something entirely new, and fans of the manga and anime should be pleased with this new adaptation.
It’s really a risk to go all out on CGI creations, but when you’ve got a king of groundbreaking computer effects like James Cameron behind you, you’re probably in good hands. Cameron reportedly lent Rodriguez his team from Avatar, and it shows, as many of the visuals throughout the film are boundary-pushing, and need to be seen to be believed. Creating many of the cyborg monstrosities of Iron City couldn’t have been a simple feat, but making them fight so fluidly must have been next to impossible. Not to mention, the attention to detail put into bringing this world to life, truly make Alita: Battle Angel a must see!