Thursday, February 28, 2019

Movie review of Alita: Battle Angel by Chandler Wang

Based on trailers and reviews, I was expecting Alita: Battle Angel, the film adaptation of a manga by the same name, to be a mediocre action movie centering around fairly decent fight scenes. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the plot, while the action was enjoyable as expected. The movie has a rough start, with rushed characterization, sudden transitions, and generally poor writing. It seems as if the entire backstory is condensed to the bare minimum, leaving only necessary demonstrations of characters' personalities and basic information on the world and characters. The lack of details and depth in the opening creates a pacing that is nauseatingly fast. Characters swap moods and demeanors in seconds, creating an artificial feeling where it is hard to take the movie seriously as cliches and blatant setups are thrown at the viewer. The entire beginning is the epitome of how film adaptations tend to butcher the original plots due to shortage of time.  However, once the setup is complete, the film kicks into gear and the work put into it becomes apparent. Although some awkward writings and line executions will spring up now and again, the story becomes much more engaging and the movie begins to create a strangely unique, unexpected, twisting storyline supplemented with various robot clashes. The fights in the movie are somewhat of a mix between Spider-man and Jackie Chan. They center around fluid, quick, and often brutal hand-to-hand combats where Alita relies on agility and her environment as much as she does raw strength. Various robot designs add to the excitement of seeing metal warriors clash sawblades and knives with swords and chain whips. The movie's climactic ending leaves many unanswered questions and unresolved conflicts. The manga, which I did not read, likely fills in many holes, but I hope that the movie's sequel will do so even better. Alita: Battle Angel was a movie filled with entertaining fights and surprisingly rich plot. The movie's exposition was, admittedly, a mess, and the ending is unsatisfying, but the film's story takes unanticipated turns that stand out in stark contrast to recent movies. I would rate this movie as a solid 85.

Chandler Wang

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