Co-written and produced by James Cameron (who was too busy working on Avatar sequels to make it himself) and directed by Sin City and Spy Kids’ Robert Rodriguez, this sci-fi movie is based on a cyberpunk Manga series about a female cyborg in a dystopian future.
Alita is said robot, found in pieces on an Iron City junk heap by scientist Ido (Waltz), who puts her back together again. Her body may be spare parts but she has a human brain and begins to remember her past as a warrior. She also finds time for romance with Hugo (Keean Johnson) and he introduces her to Motorball, a fast-paced, gladiator-style violent sport in which the ultimate winner is promised a new life in the wealthy sky city of Zalem that hovers above the slums below.
Of course, there are bad guys, including killer cyborg assassins and the scheming Vector (Ali), but the movie is dominated by the special effects. Alita (Salazar), with her oversized eyes and robot body is one of the best effects of all, but while you will marvel at her creation, Salazar never gets the chance to deliver enough warmth for you to care about what happens to her.
In fact, despite being visually impressive, the whole movie feels cold and uninvolving, while the plot seems borrowed from numerous other movies and stories, including – to name just a few – Rollerball, The Hunger Games and Ghost In The Shell. There’s nothing new here to engage with, and despite the presence of Oscar winners Waltz, Connelly and Ali, it’s really rather tedious and forgettable when you’re not watching the cyborgs smashing each other (and that gets old, too).
Is Alita: Battle Angel suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
There are fight scenes with the cyborgs that involve decapitation and amputation as well as weapons such as knives, chains, and spikes. The robots ‘bleed’ blue blood.
A dog is killed in one scene (but it is not directly shown) and Alita wipes the blood across her face.
The movie has quite a lot of violence featuring robots, hence the 12A certificate in the UK – it is not suitable for young children.
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