Alita: Battle Angel is due to be released in February 2019, but I already have a favorite scene – Alita’s fight with Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley) as she spirals through the air, dodging his sharp, metallic, extendable tentacles. There’s a glimpse of the scene in the clip below:
Alita is a cyberpunk heroine based on the character from Yukito Kishiro’s Manga Gunnm. Found on a scrap heap by Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz), with her “very human brain miraculously intact,” she does not remember who she is, or where she came from. Rebuilt and adopted by Dr. Ido, Alita (CGI portrayed by Rosa Salazar through motion capture) discovers the post-apocalyptic world of Iron City, in which she has been reborn, while learning more about her past and like any other teenage girl, coming into her own identity.
It’s an amazing futuristic action film, with great art and design, as well as an intriguing emotional arc, which also touches on some philosophical questions. Dr. Ido seeks to protect and care for Alita, and like a father, is perhaps over-protective; while her new, handsome friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) introduces many challenges – the ultra-violent game of motorball, questions about Alita’s past, and scariest of all, romance. Underlying the exhilarating action and suspense are some essential questions: What does it mean to be human, and to what extent, whether human or cyborg, can we choose our destiny?
The production saga of the film, is almost as intriguing. James Cameron (Terminator, Titanic, Avatar) began working on the film in the mid-2000s, but deep into a sequel for Avatar, realized that he would not be able to do both, and handed over his vision (with 600 pages of notes) to Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids), who cast Salazar as Alita.
My sneak peek at about 20 minutes of the film (in 3D) in a preview screening for film critics was sheer fun and excitement. Looking forward to the full feature!