I have to admit, I walked out of Alita: Battle Angel half-liking it. It’s set in a somewhat creative world where the oppressed citizens are dominated by a floating city overhead, and the only way out is to win a championship game of some kind of ultra-violent murderball. Dystopian society: check.
For some reason, an awful lot of the citizens of this city are missing limbs or other body parts, but they’ve been replaced by advanced cybernetic prosthetics. Some people have had their bodies entirely replaced, and are just human faces on bizarrely complex robots. Ubiquitous futuristic technology: check.
Christof Walz is a guy (all body parts human) who has the job of repairing all those prosthetics, making him indispensible. He’s also moonlights as a hunter-warrior, going about collecting bounties on bad guys. He finds a head in a junkyard — the brain is still alive, somehow — and installs it in a new robot body. That’s Alita. She’s got giant eyes, but is otherwise a pretty, teenaged gamin. Main character camping happily in the uncanny valley: check.
She’s super good at fighting, beating up all the bad cyborgs, ripping their arms off, crushing their human heads, etc. Much fight choreography. Much balletic violence. Super zippy CGI. Action movie tropes: check with a sword slash and an explosion.
Another bonus: Jennifer Connelly. She’s still beautiful, but she’s matured into an icy, stern, scary kind of older beauty. That time with the goblin king has turned her fey. I love her work.
So I’m enjoying it for what it is, as long as it’s swooping along kinetically with CGI fights and weirdly fascinating anime robot girl doing her thing. But it had 3 big problems.
They killed the dog. I’m not happy with that.
The love interest just came out of nowhere, and the boy did not have the charisma to warrant the girl abruptly (and literally) offering him her heart. It was stupid and superfluous and compromised Alita’s character. I wish a giant cyborg had murdered him on first sight, rather than the dog.
Worst of all, the ending. There wasn’t one. It just stops cold on the brink of the big battle in the murderball arena. I practically got whiplash, slamming on the brakes that hard. This was clearly a two-parter, at least, and there’s no warning of that anywhere, and it was a risky enough venture that it’s not at all certain the sequel will be made.
It’s half a movie, more like a mega-elaborate over-long trailer for a story in development. If you’ve ever wanted to watch a Margaret Keane waif slice a cyborg juggernaut in half, lengthwise, but aren’t worried about seeing a plot resolution, this is the movie for you.