Alita: Battle Angel is a bloated futuristic tale of good vs. evil. It is a rather simple, straightforward story, loaded with extensive visual effects, over-the-top martial arts fights with robotic giants, a bit of romance and a lot of noise and loud music.
It has a great deal that will appeal to younger audiences who have not seen so many similar films over the past 40 or 50 years — think Star Wars (1977) or Avatar (2009).
The story takes place in the 25th century, several hundred years after the ‘big fall’ when a major war all but destroyed civilization. Cities, structures, communities were demolished. It is an ugly scene that remains.
Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) has a career of finding body parts among the rubble for the purpose of rebuilding robotic beings, human or otherwise. He comes upon a human-looking head and neck that still looks functional. It is not responsive but it is in perfect condition.
Dyson takes it back to his lab and, adding robotic parts to make up the whole body, he brings it back to life.
It is a young woman, rather pretty, with large eyes (Rosa Salazar). She has no recollection of her past, or of the historic time of her life and does not even know who she is. Dr. Ido gives her the name, Alita, which was the name of his daughter who was killed in battle several years earlier.
Dr. Ido’s ex-wife, Chiren (Jennifer Connelly), has separated from him and she is now an assistant to the chief bad guy, Vector (Mahershala Ali), who wants to rule the world. He has a small army of mechanized robots (7 or 8 feet tall) with human heads and tons of steel body parts.
Slowly Alita regains knowledge of herself. She has been dead for 300 years. Now, she gets threatened by thieves or Vector’s monsters and she displays an amazing skill at martial arts. They are always willing to take her on and then can’t believe how she tore them apart.
Alita meets a young man, Hugo (Keean Johnson), who finds her appealing, even with her being less than all human. There’s the romance, although his situation presents some problems for her.
And so it goes on with the hand to hand fighting getting more dynamic and more amazing as the diminutive Alita takes on an entire gang of giants at one time.
The scenery in Alita: Battle Angel is well suited to the time and story. All the acting is satisfactory. The action scenes are very special with all the jumping, dodging, slashing off arms and heads, etc.
The major drawback I have is that in about 400 years, people still look the same, speak the same, dress the same and drive similar vehicles as today. But if this is your cup of tea, it should bring you a great deal of pleasure and excitement.
Alita: Battle Angel is at Harkins 6 Theater.