Alitais a good movie. I enjoyed the character, I liked the story, and I thought the cast was well chosen.
In fact, for me, one of the few things wrong with Alita was the faulty, floppy love interest. Interestingly, and conversely, Alita suffers from the same problem as one of my favourite movies of all time, The Princess Bride – a nonsense love interest for the main character.
That being said, even this is redeemable. Alita is a cyborg, whose mostly complete brain is found in a trash heap by an exploratory robotic doctor with secrets of his own.
She is from another time, and another place, but she cannot for the life of her remember where this place is – her brain is all there, but her memory definitely isn't.
And so, she has a chance to rediscover the world again, with new, reconstructed limbs and a sense of apparent, child-like wonder – from oranges, to chocolate, to a sport popular in this realm called Motorball – a sport that encourages doing whatever you have to do to win the game – in this case, score the ball while racing on motorised skates on a curved track with deadly adversaries.
The person who wins in Motorball and stays undefeated gets to go to the realm above and live a charmed life, away from the filth of the city.
TAKES TO THE GAME
Alita naturally takes to the game, after being introduced to Hugo, who becomes a seminal part of her story, unfortunately – you know how sometimes men can take up the most space in a woman's story even if they are completely unworthy? That's Hugo.
Here's my problem with Hugo. He's underdeveloped to the point where he might as well be a lamp post with one or two speaking lines, for all the good he does Alita.
He has corny lines – corny in the unnecessary way, not the cute way – and develops a liking for her on almost no basis whatsoever, other than she's fast and he feels like being kind.
You would think, as you discover later, spoiler alert, that a smuggler would be more naturally suspicious of a new kid – but no.
On Day 1, he shows her his secret hideout, as if in a Disney movie (I'm looking at you, Aladdin). Never trust the guys who declare everything on the first date, is the lesson here. I mean, he knows nothing about her, and I'm all about for romance and suspending disbelief – until I'm not.
Anyway, now that we've crossed into the vale of the spoilers, the doctor who rescues her, Doctor Ido, is a Hunter Warrior – which means he is a bounty hunter by night who puts away criminals fro the dark belly of their underworld, and soon, Alita decides to join him.
This puts her in direct conflict with his ex-wife, played by the startling and intense Jennifer Connelly, who is desperately trying to get back to Zalem, the world above them, which is promised to her by the Vector, played by the inimitable Mahershala Ali.
Soon she realises just how much she is willing to sacrifice to remember who she really is, and go after who took that from her in the first place.
The cast is wonderful. Mahershala Ali and Christoph Waltz are ridiculously underutilised, and all of Hugo's screen time should have been handed over to them.
Jennifer Connelly is seductive and mercurial at the same time, a villain sidekick's dream with a penchant for blood, and even Alita's hunter-warrior nemesis, Zapan, is better put together than most, with his pretty boy-murderer personality.
And I spotted one of the actresses from Love Is, Idara Victor, which I hope is not going back into production. We hope.
I also very much enjoyed the fights. They were well done, especially considering that most of it was live action and computer generated imagery.
It looked seamless to me, as did the rapid racing and the monsters of Iron City.
It was a great girl power movie, a great dystopian Gladiator-type film and a good launch (finally) for this manga that has taken 10 years to get to big screen.