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Alita Battle Angel Review (2019) | Missing James Cameron

One of the most awaited movies of Hollywood, Alita Battle Angel which is nothing but Hollywood once again Hollywoodizing an insanely popular manga series, leaves you with mixed feelings. What is a tad bothering is the direction given by Robert Rodriguez which at one point seems to be going nowhere. You can’t help but point fingers at the movie’s editing, which at times, feels like a drag. That it wasn’t completely taut like a good solid tale, which is not lugging for its pieces to bedeck itself is something that riles the eye.

However, what leaves you marveling is the creation of its titular Cyborg character Alita which feels so palpable that you cannot applaud the creators enough. The juxtaposition of her against reality feels quite dreamy and most of the times you are busy noticing how meticulous all the process has been, how it constantly aspires to reach perfection. Some superlative work of the highest quality that you will ever see in a movie! It becomes extremely difficult to tell her apart from reality.

The James Cameron Involvement

Big names associated with the production of this cyberpunk action movie like James Cameron basically helps it with the production not to mention the marketing. You associate that man’s name with something and you know the visuals are going to be ripping. So it shows in here. However, what is a tad disappointing is that he doesn’t get involved at all with the direction owing to all the work that has been going on in an insanely lugging project of his – Avatar. Because if he had, it would have become something more spectacular. Hell Alita Battel Angel was supposed to be his movie, to begin with!

She is disrupting the natural order of things she must be destroyed.

alita battle angel movie alita's eyes

Nevertheless. James’ involvement restricts to the screenplay of the movie, which he does alongside Laeta Kalogridis. While watching the movie you could realize that the writing of the movie has been really well, but not been executed so. So much potential of what it could have become gets lost owing to its mediocre direction.

Absence of Real Emotions

For instance, this dialogue right here that Alita slaps at a point when she is trying to give Hugo (Keean Johnson) what he wants:

I’d do whatever I had to for you. I’d give you whatever I have. I’d give you my heart.

gets lost. The import of the above-written lines loses its shine without good music to back it up, a good context to bolster it or good chemistry to help it stand on its own.

The setup there is so middling that the above lines fail to be really anything. The absence of emotions that should have literally ripped your heart away as it does to the character of Alita, makes you feel how quickly it gets over without making you feel anything. The next thing you see is them walking on to continue the story.

The vision of a director really does matter. If it isn’t there, any mammoth project could fall. You feel that when you are watching Alita, and patiently waiting for scenes to blow you away, and secretly wishing if only the legend had directed it. Oh! the magic James could have built with such an amazing creation.

Theme and Plot of Alita Battle Angel Movie

Alita Battle Angel has been derived from Gunnm also popular as Battle Angel Alita a manga series created by Yukito Kishiro. We already had a badass story to work with, the only thing left to do was to put it all behind a cinematic presentation. Visuals of the movie are simply stunning. So much of work has gone into it and it all shows.

I do not standby in the presence of evil!

A cyborg with a fully intact brain is discovered by a cyborg scientist
Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz). Fixed up and given a name, Alita has trouble remembering her past. She finds herself on a quest to figure out who she was.

This is just your body. It’s not bad or good. That part’s up to you.

The story of Alita is top-notch but what is unfortunate is its storytelling. People behind the creation of Alita Battle Angel movie seem to be working in chunks, so in a way, the movie keeps asking the question – “what’s next?” instead of being consequential. Its actions should have spontaneously resulted into a chain reaction but there is so much relaxation infused at every juncture that the movie unknowingly stretches and becomes less savory.

You have been given a chance to start over with a clean slate. How many of us get that?

Another painful character portrayal is that of Jennifer Connelly who plays Chiren. Her change of heart feels so disconnected that you are forced to wonder if it is really happening. On more than one occasions you experience the lack of music and proper cinematography to support the movie’s shallow melodrama.

Action Scenes

Goes without saying the action scenes in the movie are simply lit. Alita is ruthless when she is fighting and so quick that she would leave you mesmerized with her moves. All the fight scenes in the movie will leave you in orgasmic awe.

alita battle angel fighting scenes

Amongst those who make the movie fight scenes really interesting to watch is Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley) who serves as a great competition. However, Alita is simply the best. So badass and fearless that it is difficult for anyone in the movie to subdue her completely. When she goes full-fledged insane nothing comes close to defeating her. Nothing compares to her fighting style.

Zapan (Ed Skrein) too brings an interesting angle of perversion serving as a side villain to the story. He does ample damage too until he gets taken care of eventually. Vector (Mahershala Ali) acts as a surrogate for the most part. His presence gets mostly driven by Nova who is supposed to be the ultimate villain. But unlike other movies where the final villain gives the protagonist a proper good fight, Vector feels too weak and powerless even though he trash talks some good screenplay.

Keean Johnson as Hugo

While for some Keean Johnson as Hugo must have been an exciting character to watch, but for me, on a personal level, it felt as he was badly cast included mostly for the sake of his looks. Energy, madness, and verve were missing big time from his acting. He was responsible for the absence of chemistry between the two of its pivotal characters. His eagerness to go to the sky city of Zalem felt contrived. There was no real yearning in his eyes.

If it were not for the story that was built around him, Keean Johnson would have felt more out of place. I couldn’t help but picture a far better actor falling, really falling in love with Alita for who she was. Au contraire, Keean felt torn and distant.

Then again, you cannot blame something like that on the actor alone. The ball was always in the court of the director. If Robert Rodriguez had the power to turn things interesting and more intense, Keean would have fit the bill just fine.

The Good (Spoilers)

Hugo: We go back we will be on the run forever.
Alita: But together.

The only time the movie feels really dramatic is toward the end where Hugo heads for Zalem on his own. It is that part where you acknowledge the presence of some real emotions. Alita trying her level best to stop him from going there whilst Hugo is adamant and not listening.

The movie ends aptly leaving open strands for future sequels. I just hope Robert doesn’t return for direction for the rest of the franchise. If not James let’s hope someone better picks it up.

Amongst other good bits, you can say, are all those parts where Alita carries that childlike innocence in her trying to watch the world for the first time. You see the world with her eyes of wonder and appreciate the beauty just like she does. Little things like savouring the taste of chocolate for the first time, or bumping into a dog, or finding love are some of those instances that make you relate.

You can order Alita Battle Angel movie from here:

The Final Verdict

For a movie that was announced some 16 years ago, the wait isn’t really worth it, and that is a bit worrying. But the way Alita Battle Angel movie leaves its crumbs out in the open as it ends, it is literally screaming for a sequel in the long run. Something to look forward to.

Check out more cool movie reviews on SFAM.

You can check out the trailer of Alita Battle Angel movie here:

Alita Battle Angel










Visual Effects



  • Great Plot
  • Extraordinary Visuals
  • Great fight scenes


  • Middling Direction
  • Shallow melodrama
  • Absence of Chemistry
  • Paper thin characters
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Alita: Battle Angel
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