Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched the movie yet and want to see it spoiler free, do not continue reading.
Manga has always both interested me and made me feel very unconfromtable. There are scenes in Akira for instance that would stick in my head for days, and not necesseraly in a good way. The was the case with Battle Angel: Alita, the manga that has inspired the, almost likely named, film by James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez. Since I have seen the manga OVA, I knew the gist of the story and what to expect. Still, “Alita: Battle Angel” managed to entice me through the entire movie. Watching Alita as a live action movie is quite the experience. The visual effects are, as you would expect, amazing. The world looks real. The cyborgs look real. But that is not the point.
“Avatar” was not a movie about alien races. To me, it was a movie about the fate of the earth and what we do with it. To me, “Avatar” was about how unchecked greed and the search for economic growth at all costs will end up destroing everything. For me Alita is also not justa cyberpunk film. It is a film about living in the hear and now. About appreciating what you have instead of looking at what you can never have. There is this one scene, when Hugo takes Alita to his favorite place in the city. It is a top a large, broken, church. When Alita comes out to the roof she looks down at Iron city and claim it to be beautiful. Hugo dismisses it and tell her to look up, at Zalem, the view he is obssesed with. Alita is seeing the beauty in what they have, while Hugo can only see missery in the now and tries to get to a place he can never go. There are more scenes in which you can see Alita trying to make the best of what she has and where she is compared to most other characters whom are all trying to get to a place they cant actually go.
There are of course a lot of really cool cyborgs fighting one another and great action scenes. If cyberpunk is your thing, this is going to be enjoyable. I dare say that Cameron and Rodriguez have managed to stay close to the OVA material, while improving upon it. Yes the story feels weird at times but that is just part of the manga herigate. Itsa balancing act I believe they mananged quite well.
On some level I think the point of art is to move you emotionally, and Alita certianly has. It’s not a comfortable feeling I have, more of a lightly disturbed. Not all art is there to make you happy. And in that sense Alita is certainly a success. A day after wathcing it, it still manages to hold a lot of my attention. That is the sign of some good art.