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Movie Review: “Alita: Battle Angel”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

'Alita: Battle Angel' ' had its theatrical release on 2/14/2019. Here is a spoiler-free review of the film.

'Alita: Battle Angel' ' had its theatrical release on 2/14/2019. Here is a spoiler-free review of the film.

Alita: Battle Angel Tells a Dystopian Story

In the twenty-sixth century, civilization has taken a major step back. Civilization reached its peak with incredible technological advancements, such as cybernetic enhancements that could replace human limbs, organs, and even entire bodies.

After the end of a great war, known as the Fall, civilization was split into two sections. The upper-class lives on a floating city above the rest of the society. There, they have comfortable lives, vast resources, and tremendous wealth. The lower-class lives in poverty below the floating city. The only way to ascend from the lower-class and into the floating city is to become the final champion in a sport known as motor ball.

Dr. Ido (Christoph Waltz) uses scraps from the junkyard to help give necessary cybernetic enhancements to people in the lower-class. One day, he is searching the junkyard when he finds the remains of a young girl. Her mechanical body has been almost completely destroyed, but her brain is completely intact. He gives the girl a new body, but when she wakes up, she has no memory of who she was or where she came from. The doctor takes her in, names her Alita (Rosa Salazar), and tries to teach her about the world while keeping her safe. However, they soon realize that Alita is more than capable of defending herself. She was created to be an incredible weapon, and her instincts take over as she tries to save the ones she loves from evil forces.

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Alita (+8pts)

Vector & Chiren (-5pts)

The Action & The Visuals (+8pts)

Nova (-3pts)

Dr. Ido (+5pts)

Hugo (-3pts)


Pro: Alita (+8pts)

I liked this character’s story quite a bit. Was it an original idea to have a main character who did not remember their past? No, but this character was all about moving forward. She wanted to learn about who she was and where she came from, but her focus was definitely on what was in front of her. Her lack of memory was part of her story, but it was not her entire story. Her primary focus was stopping the evil currently within the city. We got to see the character experience things for the first time which was a fun little aspect of the character’s story—and definitely gave me a craving for oranges.

I enjoyed seeing the character trying things, and I liked that her search for answers did not consume her—or this story—but my favorite part of the character was that she was an absolute beast in combat. The character was strong and did everything in her power to fight for what was right. Alita never ran from a fight and after seeing her in action, you will know that she had little reason to. She was a better fighter than almost everything she went up against, but she was also fearless and her motivations were honorable. All of this came together to make Alita interesting, relatable, honorable, a badass, and just an overall great main character to follow.


Con: Vector & Chiren (-5pts)

My main issue with these two characters, was that there was not nearly enough time to develop them both while also setting up Nova. Vector (Mahershala Ali) had close ties with Nova, he managed the bounty hunter organization, and he was a powerful behind the scenes player in motor ball. Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) worked with Vector, and she was a very skilled cybernetic doctor and engineer. Chiren‘s got character growth that was never justified, as if there were a switch that was flipped in her head to make her completely change her motivations. Then there was Vector, who got no real development whatsoever. The filmmakers should have cut one of these two characters from this story, to properly develop the other. Instead we got two poorly developed antagonists that played very similar roles in the story, when having just one character would have served the movie better.


Pro: The Action & the Visuals (+8pts)

If you have seen the trailers, then you know the digital effects and visuals were a huge part of this movie. I saw the movie in 3D—which I do not normally do, but it was the best showtime for me that day—and was in awe of how well the digital effects were done. This was not a movie that will go down in history as one of the greatest visual accomplishments, but it looked fantastic. The main character, Alita, was entirely CGI and while entirely CGI characters can look off, this one did not.

I felt all of the emotion that I would expect to from a live action performance, and the digital effects were so good, I occasionally forgot I was looking at CGI. On top of the spectacular digital effects and visuals, the action in this movie was a lot of fun. The main character was a very powerful cybernetic warrior, and her action sequences were as exciting as they were great to look at. The realistic nature of the digital effects, mixed with the great action sequences, made for a combination that was very fun to watch.


Con: Nova (-3pts)

Nova (Edward Norton) was setup as the highest-level antagonist, and biggest baddie. The guy lived in the floating city, and he was Alita’s main objective. He was Vector’s boss, he had eyes all over the city, and that was pretty much all we learned about him. The problem with this was that the filmmakers established him as the big bad, but they never showed us what his intentions were, nor did we get to see him actually doing anything. The character was always in the floating city, while every other character in this story was in the lower city. It made Nova feel very detached from everything that was going on. This would have all been tolerable if Vector or Chiren were properly developed, but as I mentioned before, that was not the case.


Pro: Dr. Ido (+5pts)

I do not want to say much about him to avoid spoilers, but I enjoyed this character a lot. Christoph Waltz is always entertaining, and he made this character a lot more interesting than he could have been. Dr. Ido saved Alita right at the beginning of the story, and he became somewhat of a father figure to her, but the guy had his secrets. The character was interesting, and Christoph Waltz did a good job of making the audience trust Dr. Ido despite his secretive nature.


Con: Hugo (-3pts)

This is another character that I do not want to say too much about to avoid spoilers. I thought the actor (Keean Johnson) did a decent enough job in the role, but there was not much to the character, and I found it pretty easy to predict his story arc. There were a couple of semi-surprising moments regarding Hugo, but as far as the character’s growth was concerned, it was pretty easy to predict his behavior. Additionally, I thought the romance between Hugo and Alita felt forced. I bought Hugo as a friend of Alita, but I did not think the filmmakers earned anything more than that.

Grading Scale






























Grade: B+ (85pts)

Alita: Battle Angel was a visually stunning movie with a solid main character, and great action. The digital effects were both visually pleasing and impressive, and the action was as visually satisfying as it was exciting. The main character was all CGI, but it looked so realistic that I found myself forgetting she was computer generated. Alita was relatable, honorable, and she knew how to fight. The action sequences were incredibly entertaining, leaving me completely unaware of how quickly I was eating my popcorn—always a good indicator of how entertaining a movie is.

There were two antagonists which essentially served the same role, but there was not enough room in this movie to develop both of them, so both suffered. The big bad of the movie was frequently eluded to, but was always a whole city away and never did anything noteworthy, which made him feel detached from everything else that was happening. My point is the movie was not perfect, but it was a lot of fun. This was largely due to having such a strong main character. The action was great and the visual effects were outstanding, and Alita was the kind of main character that kept me interested in the movie and left me wanting more. I did not have much in the way of expectations for this movie, but it certainly exceeded those expectations, as I had a good time watching it.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


Movie Beasts (author) from MA on September 12, 2020:

Thanks for another comment, Dale! For this one, your comment actually got me to revise my score a bit. It was not that you changed my mind or anything, but you made me come back and reflect on this movie again...definitely not a 90 like I had it before. It’s sometimes good to come back and revisit ones opinions of movies, I suppose.


Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 12, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this movie. It took me a while to run across it. I was aware of it being out there but never had much of a chance to watch it. What did I think of it? Well I'm reading this article and writing this comment... while I'm watching it so that tells you how engaged I am in it. Oh Robert Rodriguez how far you've fallen =(