As with movie adaptations of video games, live-action adaptions of anime and manga works have always been a disappointment. Some works don’t transition well into live action or the project was handed to a hack who lacks a basic understanding of the source material. Alita: Battle Angel is the first film to have broken this trend.
Everything was working against this adaptation and yet it has succeeded in being a quality film. While not a flawless masterpiece, it has set the foundation for other live action adaptations to follow.
You Gave me my Life Cameron
To be honest, I never read the manga or saw the anime adaptation. I wanted to but it was not available on any streaming service. The best I could do was read the synopsis on Wikipedia. Hence, I will have to rate the story based how it stands out compared to other works in the same genre.
Alita: Battle Angel is set in a dystopian future that was brought about after an event called “The Fall”. Most of humanity lives in Iron City, struggling to get by while dreaming of living in the clouds city of Zalem. The story begins with Dr. Dyson Ido discovering a disembodied cyborg with a fully intact human brain. He rebuilds the cyborg and names her “Alita” after his deceased daughter. She has no memory of her previous life or any concept of what her purpose was. While trying to learn who she is, her presence gets the attention of some powerful people.
In regards to its quality as film – the easy answer, it’s not Death Note (or Dragon Ball Evolution). But to go by those standards would be an insult to everyone who put in the effort for Alita.
James Cameron has always wanted to make a live action adaptation of Battle Angel. He is fan of the manga and the anime, hence he respects the source material. As with any adaptation of a story, those who are trying to bring it to life must understand the source material and Cameron has demonstrated this. One should not also overlook Robert Rodriguez who has demonstrated that he can take on such an ambitious project.
Bring the story to life was a stellar cast of stars . At first glance it looked as if the presence of titans like Christoph Waltz and Mahershala Ali would have stolen the spotlight. Instead everyone got the chance to showcase their talent without being overshadowed. This was especially true of star, Rosa Salazar, who was able to bring the character of Alita to life.
Why Did You Die?
Alita: Battle Angel is not a total piece of crap but it’s also not the masterpiece that many would expect. Too many story transitions and rough editing does hold back the films quality. The root of this problem comes down to the fact that James Cameron is spiting his time between two major projects. Multitasking is a bulls*** skill but so many think they can do two things at once. It would have been better to have been focused on Alita first then start on Avatar 2 instead of doing both of them at the same time.
The next issue that holds Alita back is that PG-13 rating. As with the live action Ghost In The Shell film, the PG-13 dumbs-down the overall themes while the emotional impact of some moments are lost because it was being held back. This was a movie that should have been rated R but instead artistic integrity was sacrificed to appease everyone.
If I’m an Angel
Making a live action adaptation of an anime is possible, it just requires the right talent who respects the source material. James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez have demonstrated this with Alita: Battle Angel. Not the masterpiece I was expecting but a good film in its own right.
Alita: Battle Angel is a good adaptation of the iconic manga that was made possible by a talented team and a stellar cast. They were able to beat the odds and defy peoples expectations.
Hopefully, Robert Rodriguez would be allowed to make his live action adaptation of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Disclaimer: I bought my ticket and saw this movie at AMC Saratoga.