Just watched Battle Angel: Alita this past week. As a huge fan of the original manga series (I have them at home) and the anime, I`ll admit that I did have quite a few mixed feelings about a live-action version being released, especially after what happened with Ghost In The Shell. Hollywood doesn`t exactly have a sparkling track record when it comes to live-action adaptations of Japanese manga and anime titles.
But overall, I think that Director James Cameron did a pretty good job on this movie!
***** Orginal Anime & Manga *****
The original anime and manga series actually takes place over a few different volumes covering multiple time periods where Alita (named “Gally or Gunm” in the Japanese version), a highly advanced cyborg from the old days who is skilled in a badass style of fighting called “Panzer Kunst”, fights as a Hunter-Warrior in the city of Scrapyard and on Mars while slowly regaining memories of her old lives.
This anime series was a hit back in the 1990`s when anime was finally becoming mainstream in the U.S.
*** Review ***
This movie was actually one of the best live-action film adaptations of anime that I have had the pleasure of viewing so far! I mean, the “Ruroni Kenshin” trilogy was a very good live adaptation, but that was because the cast was lit and they were using live actors. Battle Angel stepped up the game because it is almost entirely CGI, which is it`s most impressive quality!
The movie followed the original anime and manga storyline very closely, which I think was good in this case, since many viewers in the U.S. may not be too familiar with the original source material. There was no need to deviate or try to add anything in this case because the storyline from the anime was very well written. The writing team and production crew didn`t really have too much to do in that department.
The action scenes in the film were very well choreographed with high quality and the use of great camera positioning to get the maximum effect of each shot. Also, the use of slow-motion was mixed in very well, so you could actually see the action scenes and feel them more deeply than most movies nowadays. No complaints in that department!
The only main distracting point in the movie is actually Alita`s eyes and her facial animations. What I mean is that the CGI is basically a double-edged sword in the film when it comes to her face. You can tell that James Camera really wanted to keep the anime-style look with this particular character in order to make it look and feel more authentic like the anime. It looks like quite a lot of budget was spent on animating Alita`s face.
However, that also serves as a distraction in the movie at some points because of Alita`s frequent interactions with… well… normal humans with regular sized eyes. The girl`s face is beautiful because it`s small and proportional, but her eyes do seem to be a tad too big sometimes, especially when she`s just talking to the regular humans around her. This isn`t too big of a problem when she is actually meant to show expression like surprise, but during normal conversations, it stands out more than it should.
Also, Alita smiles in the movie. A lot. Sometimes in places where there`s no need for it. I know she`s supposed to be innocent in a way but also really enjoys the thrill of battle. But for her to smile all the time is just unnerving in some scenes.
Still, I do love the fact that they gave her a casual, teenage girl look, feel and attitude that kind of offsets the CGI overuse.
Other tha that, the CGI worked very well in the rest of the film.
Worth A Sequel?
In the end, I would say that this movie is definitely sequel-worthy. One reason is that many newcomers to the film who enjoyed Alita`s world are not actually familiar with it and are newcomers to the arena. There`s definitely enough room for a few more films that can be used to fill the audience in on the mysteries of Alita`s past!
Another reason that a sequel should be made is that the film was actually good and grossed a decent amount in the box office! That`s a big indicator that people want to see more and the end credits of the film seem like the production team is already preparing to give it to us.
Overall, this was a very satisfying film and I am looking forward to the next installment! 🙂