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Alita: Battle Angel Movie Review – With Love Comes Power

A powerful young cyborg, long dead, is reborn with a drive to fight evil.

Reviewed by on Feb 15, 2019
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Alita: Battle Angel in IMAX and 3D. Is this tale, based on a Manga heroine, well worth your trip to the Cineplex? It’s a touching love story as well as a Sci-Fi actioner. Read our movie review!

By: Lynn Barker

In Alita: Battle Angel, it is 2563 and, after a devastating war with Mars, earth’s many floating cities were downed. Only one, Zalem, remains. Below in Iron City, live the refuse of Mankind who serve the elite living above. Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) repairs cyborgs and scavenges for parts. When he finds the discarded torso of a young teen cyborg and sees that her brain is alive, he repairs her and names her after his dead daughter Alita (Rosa Salazar).

Alita is only a head and torso when Ido finds herAlita is only a head and torso when Ido finds her

Alita has no memory but gradually learns who she is while falling in love with human Hugo (Keean Johnson). She has a strong sense of right and wrong and uses this and amazing fighting skills against Vector (Mahershala Ali) a crime lord who runs the life and death game of Motorball where cyborgs fight for the right to live above in Zalem. Will Alita fulfill her delayed destiny? Does anyone ever really make it to Zalem?

Alita: Battle Angel Trailer


Finding an Angel

In the year 2563, a totally destructive war, three hundred years ago has left Earth in ruins. Surgeon and inventor Dr. Dyson Ido scavenges for spare cyborg parts. He repairs cyborg Motorball players and others in exchange for the money to keep his clinic open. When he discovers the torso of a teen female cyborg in a dump, he takes it home and repairs it with a body he intended for his handicapped daughter who was killed. He names the cyborg Alita and realizes she has no memory of her past. Alita explores Iron City with total innocence and curiosity. She rescues a stray dog and is helped by Hugo, a cute, young parts scavenger, who brings cyborg parts to Ido. Alita is instantly attracted to him.

Alita, with Hugo, is ready to fightAlita, with Hugo, is ready to fightCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Motorball and Hunter-Warriors

Hugo and friend Tanji (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) and crew introduce Alita to the competitive sport of Motorball, a battle game in which cyborgs skate on a track until there is a winner or they are destroyed. Only the number one champion can be sent up to Zalem where Hugo swears to go one day when he earns enough credits. Alita is very good at a street version of the game, defeating the entire crew. Later, Alita sees Ido going out at night and coming back bloody. She learns of Hunter-Warriors, bounty hunters who bring in lawbreakers with prices on their heads. A doctor named Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) is especially interested in Alita. We learn that she was married once to Ido and the deceased daughter was also hers. Since a repaired cyborg killed her, Chiren blames Ido.

Cherin will eventually help AlitaCherin will eventually help Alita

Secrets and a Battle

We see that Chiren is allied with Vector the ruthless runner of the Motorball games. She provides him with new cyborg players and repairs those injured in the games… all with the understanding that she will one day be sent back to Zalem where she is from. Alita discovers that Ido is a Hunter-Warrior when she follows him one night and they have to fight three cyborg assassins led by the huge Grewishka (Jackie Earle Haley). Alita kills two and badly damages Grewishka before he retreats underground swearing revenge. Alita has a flashback of a big battle and realizes she was in it. Who is she? Ido has learned that she is an expert at the ancient martial art of "Panzer Kunst" and she is a 300-year-old warrior made from tech no longer available.

Alita wakes to a new bodyAlita wakes to a new body

The Badlands

Hugo and crew take Alita outside the city to show her a crashed Martian spaceship in a lake. It seems familiar to her. She goes underwater to the control room where she instinctively pushes buttons to reveal a high tech suit, a complete metal “body”.

Alita inside the alien shipAlita inside the alien shipCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

She takes it back with her. Ido doesn’t want her to become a Hunter-Warrior like she wants. He won’t install this new “suit” on Alita. It’s too dangerous. It is the suit of a Berserker, the most elite of Martian warriors! Then how did she know how to find it? Was she once the enemy attacking Earth? She goes alone and registers as a Hunter-Warrior.

Ido doesn't want Alita to be a Hunter-WarriorIdo doesn't want Alita to be a Hunter-Warrior

The Bar Fight and a Kiss

Ready to take down Grewishka and his crew, Alita and Hugo go to a cyborg bar and she challenges other cyborg warriors to join her to defeat Grewishka. He’s not on the wanted list so they laugh at this petite girl and refuse.  Grewishka enters to kill her, sent by the most evil lord of all Nova who lives on Zalem.

Cyborg Grewishka is under Nova's controlCyborg Grewishka is under Nova's control

Despite some serious butt-kicking, Grewishka chops Alita up but she is able to blind him first. With no choice, Ido does replace her body with the Berserker suit which interfaces with her system as if built for her. She’s grateful and loves it when Hugo is impressed with her new “look”. They kiss for the first time as he tells her she is the “most human person I’ve ever met”.

Alita and Hugo are in loveAlita and Hugo are in love

Destroy Alita

Vector, who turns out to be a “puppet” for Nova, orders Grewishka to kill Alita. Hugo has turned to the dark side, stealing parts with his crew from living cyborgs by stunning them and ripping the parts off. Anything to achieve his dream to going to Zalem. He gives these parts to Vector.

Vector wants to own or kill AlitaVector wants to own or kill Alita

Alita enters a Motorball tryout race as a means to get credits to send Hugo to Zalem. She’d do anything for him. Ido discovers that the other contestants are Hunter-Warriors and wanted cyborgs hired by Vector to kill her. He warns Alita and as the race begins, she destroys many of the contestants with her high tech skills.

Alita is trying out for MotorballAlita is trying out for Motorball

Meanwhile, on the streets, Hugo is being hunted by cyborg warrior Zapan (Ed Skrein) who has framed Hugo for murdering a cyborg. Hugo calls Alita for help and she leaves the Motorball race to rescue him. In a confrontation, she learns Hugo’s dark secret. He’s been stealing cyborg body parts and giving them to Vector. She is shocked but Zapan badly wounds Hugo and challenges her, as a Hunter-Warrior to kill Hugo, a wanted man. She manages to injure Zapan and take his signature sword.

Zapan is out to kill AlitaZapan is out to kill Alita

Chiren to the Rescue

Chiren overhears the young lovers as Alita swears her love and cries as Hugo is dying. Having a change of heart she helps save Hugo while making him appear dead. He is Alita’s “kill” and Zapan can do nothing. Ido transplants Hugo's head onto a cyborg body. Alita learns that nobody in Iron City will ever really enter Zalem. It’s just a ruse created by Vector and Nova (Ed Norton), whom he serves.

Hugo shows Alita Zalem sky cityHugo shows Alita Zalem sky city

Alita goes to confront Vector. Will she succeed in killing him and his boss Nova? Do she and Hugo have a future? Will Chiren ever really make it back to Zalem?

Wrapping Up

Alita: Battle Angel is an eye-popping Sci-Fi actioner but, at its core is a sweet love story that makes its release on Valentine’s Day logical. The Alita character is an innocent soul whose only real vulnerability is her emotions. She’s both strengthened and weakened by love. Much like Jim Cameron’s uber-popular film Titanic, the movie zeroes in on young lovers fighting for their lives against horrible odds. It’s a formula that still works. Young actor Keean Johnson reminds me of a young Colin Farrell and he and Rosa Salazar make a sweet couple.

Alita and Hugo are an unlikely coupleAlita and Hugo are an unlikely coupleCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Production design is amazing as is fight choreography. It takes a while to get used to Alita’s over-sized eyes but they do remind you of the Manga character upon which the film is based. I was disappointed that Motorball is way too close to Rollerball, the classic game depicted in two movies, an original and a re-make. It would have been nice if the filmmakers could have been more creative with the depiction of this game.

Alita gets used to her new Berserker bodyAlita gets used to her new Berserker body

We saw the film in both IMAX and 3D and it looks great but we'd say just go for the big screen and the 3D isn’t all that necessary.  Alita is quite the spectacle but with heart. We award four stars.

Alita: Battle Angel Movie Rating: 4

Alita: Battle Angel Movie PosterCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

See Alita: Battle Angel in theaters now.

What Do You Think?

Are you a Manga fan? Have you been waiting for this film to come out or do you just like kick-butt female heroines? Talk all things Manga, Sci-Fi and hey, even love with a comment below and/or write about it on your Kidzworld profile page.