Alita: Battle Angel is eye candy all over, literally. But little in terms of a compelling story.
Alita: Battle Angel Synopsis
In the 26th century and after a terrible conflict known as “The Fall,” human society is divided into ground-dwellers and the upper echelon residing in the sole remaining floating city of Zalem. One day, cyborg scientist Dyson Ido finds the upper-body remains of a female cyborg in a junkyard. After restoring the cyborg, he names her as Alita after his beloved deceased daughter. Before long, it becomes obvious that Alita was previously no ordinary cyborg, with her increasingly capable of amazing physical feats. Alita’s curiosity about the shattered world and her nascent romance with teenager Hugo soon draws her into a deadly conflict too. She quickly finds herself the target of both other cyborgs as well as the shadowy controllers of her city.
As unfair and as appalling as it is to say, I think quality of visual effects and action sequences should no longer be primary yardsticks for action movies.
They still play a part, of course. But in an era in which any studio with a halfway decent budget could enjoy access to cutting-edge CGI, and with every other popcorn thriller doing it, quality of effects and action no longer matter that much, do they? Why else would the Transformers movies be hated, when they are packed full of the latest visual marvels?
What I’m saying is, after an era of saturation, we are back to basics. Once more, story matters most. A bumbling story was exactly why I was bored by Alita: Battle Angel last Friday.
To go into details, the tale simply doesn’t head anywhere. To begin with, the premise of a sharply divided society with an unscrupulous and (literally) detached upper echelon, just isn’t very interesting. The same premise has been repeated in way too many dystopian sagas of late.
Alita’s so-called awakening, while intriguing at parts, also carries little emotional impact. You get the impression the bits are all gearing up for something “large.” But in the end, the story is little more than a sappy, cross-species teenage romance.
And then there’s the ending, which I have a real big issue with. I understand the commercial need for sequels and franchises and all that. But c’mon, at least end the episode on higher ground? No puns intended?
With Alita being pretty aware of what’s going on early in the movie, the ending just doesn’t conclude with any genuine sense of heightened achievement. Or purpose, for that matter. To an extent, one could even say Alita was back to ground zero. In spite of her abilities and realisations, the amazing cyborg accomplished little. She certainly found no resolution too.