GRAPHIC BY EMMA CHANG
Alita: Battle Angel is no savior of ours because it was sent straight to movie scrapyard.
Set in the year 2546, Alita: Battle Angel is based on the 1990 Japanese comic book series Battle Angel Alita. The film, directed by Robert Rodriguez, takes place in an apocalyptic future, in which a war with the United Republic of Mars (URM) has caused the downfall of all floating cities except Zalem. Underneath the elitist city, surviving off of the scraps of their overseers, is Iron City, home to all of the industrial buildings, farms and other producers that allow Zalem to run.
Alita is discovered in the large scrapyards and saved by Dr. Dyson Ido, a cyber doctor who becomes her adoptive father. She is given the complex body that was going to belong to his now-deceased daughter. Despite this, she retains her human brain. Alita embarks on a quest to find out who she used to be but is constantly getting sidetracked fighting robots and falling in love with a human named Hugo.
In the movie’s quest to build a thriller and suspense, the film failed to give the audience enough information to connect with the story. Due to the number of details that were omitted from the audience, the viewers are saddled with a movie that feels incomplete. Overall, the abundance of unclarity outweighs the exposition.
During the course of the film, Alita faces many smaller enemies who are more inconveniences than challenges. Here, the movie overextends itself. It attempts to create many smaller antagonists to encourage character growth and provide challenges. Contrary to their purpose, these inconveniences take away from the severity of the major conflicts of the film. By giving Alita so many people to defeat, the audience can not take any threats seriously as they will follow the same, predictable pattern.
Moreover, one of the main aspects that take away from the film is the lack of refinement. For example, Vector is portrayed as a very shady and suspicious character, although we see no clear agenda or master plot.
Furthermore, Vector is known as the master of “motorball” one of the most convenient plot devices the directors reuse. It has a very loosely defined ruleset resembling a to-the-death roller rink where the objective is to stay alive and dunk a ball into a small goal. Even though it is Hugo’s life goal and salvation, it is never fully explained.
Notably, the only aim of the film is to set up for a sequel. The blatant loose ends and information leaks take away from the movie as a whole. Like many modern franchises, the producers assumed that the audience would want more, even going so far as to plan a sequel. They hope to make this a series, yet there is no mystery left to solve, and there is no unresolved tension or drama. Even if a second film were to be made, the final resolution would most likely be a repeat of the fights earlier in the film.
In addition, the introduction of the greater evil was not subtle enough to add suspense, drama or create a mystery, yet was not present enough to consider the main antagonist. For example, in one of the closing scenes, we see the last shot of the higher power controlling the playing field, Nova. Thanks to other shots we had of him earlier, we know his appearance, taking away from the sudden reveal. The viewers also don’t know his role in the film as he does very little during the course of it, but the film portrays him as the one holding all the cards.
The plot was cliche and non-effectual at most. It provided a flimsy excuse for the character’s actions. The plot seemed to be a horrific melting pot of other, better executed movies of the time. For instance, the movie attempts to use the romance between Hugo, who pushed her out of the way of an oncoming robot, and Alita, as the driving force behind her actions. However, Alita has an unrealistically altruistic side which makes it highly unlikely that romance was the true driving factor in her decision making.
Moreover, the film attempted to weave a picture of fighting for a larger cause but it is lost on the audience. The audience is told that she is fighting for answers, for revenge, for Hugo, and for her future: And even though she fights for all these purposes, she never searches for answers. The film sincerely lacks emotional depth and complexity but attempts to compensate with cool gadgets, visual effects, CGI and eye-catching thrills
Still, the action scenes were well choreographed and intense. The use of slow motion and animation techniques to enhance violent parts of the film were effective.
Yet, these were lost on the audience with no story to provide structure. The movie was more sparkle than substance and provided two hours of old effects in a new background.
All in all, Alita: Battle Angel’s plot and the storyline is essentially forgettable with shallow conflicts and footholds. In the end, the movie stretched itself too far by introducing too many antagonists, and attempting to force the movie to go in too many directions at once. Even the eye-catching graphics were not enough to save Alita: Battle Angel which turned out to be the same story, all polished up.