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Alita: Battle Angel

Opening Date
05 Feb 2019
PG13 Some Violence
122 mins
English with Chinese subtitles
Action, Adventure, Romance, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Robert Rodriguez
Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Lana Condor, Eiza González
Alita is a creation from an age of despair. Found by the mysterious Dr. Ido while trolling for cyborg parts, Alita becomes a lethal, dangerous being. She cannot remember who she is, or where she came from. But to Dr. Ido, the truth is all too clear. She is the one being who can break the cycle of death and destruction left behind from Tiphares. But to accomplish her true purpose, she must fight and kill. And that is where Alita's true significance comes to bear. She is an angel from heaven. She is an angel of death.
By Say Peng  03 Feb 2019
An entertaining, action-packed, and moving adaption of a popular Japanese cyber-punk manga by director Robert Rodriguez and writer-producer James Cameron.
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Based on the Japanese cyberpunk manga Battle Angel Alita, Alita: Battle Angel is James Cameron’s 20-years-in-the-making project. Originally planning to direct it, Cameron was instead sidetracked to make Avatar 2 and 3 after the record-smashing success of the first Avatar. Whilst still keeping his co-writing and co-producing duties, Cameron passed on the directing mantle to the Mexican director of Spy Kids movies, Robert Rodriguez. The movie certainly reflects both the best and a little of the not-so-good qualities of both directors.

‘Alita’ starts off well, leaving us in awe of the visual design of its world. Set 500 years into the future, the film takes place in Iron City, a rusty and dilapidated post-industrial junkyard of a city that exists as a garbage bin for Zalem, a floating city paradise that many living in Iron City hope to escape to one day. Our lead character, Alita (Rosa Salazar), was found in a junkyard without a body, miraculously alive, by Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz), a good samaritan mechanic-physician who repairs half-cyborg humans and who nurses Alita back to health, giving her a cyborg body that he had originally made for his late daughter.

Unable to remember anything from her previous life, Alita discovers everything for the first time, including love and the insidious reality behind Zalem and Motorball, a life-and-death gladiator-style ball tournament run by Ido's ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) and Vector (Mahershala Ali), both of whom work for a mysterious and sinister puppet-master residing in Zalem. He is after Alita, unbeknownst to her. Together with her new love interest, Hugo (Keean Johnson), Alita rebels against her overprotective father to search for her identity.

Befitting a James Cameron movie, the world-building is rich and detailed. But despite the expansive and emotional story, with its cast of deeply human characters, they are weighed down by a cluttered script and by Rodriguez’s competent but bland direction. On paper, Rodriguez seems to be the right choice as director. He’s done big-budget visual effects movies, for kids and adults, that have done well at the box office (‘Spy Kids’ and ‘Sin City’). But to due, one may say, his lack of an epic vision, his movies have never transcended to become the kind of grand-scale movies that Cameron makes. Even the performances in Rodriguez’s films, including ‘Alita’, while decent, are not noteworthy.

Nevertheless, ‘Alita’ is entertaining and moving, and will be enjoyed by most people.
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