Review: What ‘Alita’ lacks in story, it makes up with visuals

Every year it seems like we get a new movie about cyborgs, robots or post- apocalyptic life, and this year is no different. “Alita: Battle Angel” was recently released, and it follows a cyborg’s journey as she re-identifies herself through conflict and love.

The movie was inspired by a manga series. The setting is 300 years into the future in a place called Iron City. Alita is found in the scrapyard by Ido, a doctor who operates on cyborgs and has no memory of who she is. Ido gives Alita a new body and helps her navigate the city. Along the way, Alita meets a boy, Hugo, who gives her more information about where she came from in hopes to help her regain her memory.

This movie had a $200 million budget, and I could tell. The visuals were absolutely stunning, from the floating city of Zalem to the cyborg bodies. Everything visual in this movie made it more inclusive. With a filmmaker such as James Cameron, who worked on Avatar, it’s no surprise that the visuals are breathtaking.

I also loved the two contrasting cities. Zalem was described as being the place where the elites lived and where everyone wanted to end up. Iron City, on the other hand, was the dump that the majority of the population ended in up after “The Fall.” With the two cities being polar opposites, the visuals of Zalem floating above Iron City illustrated that relationship perfectly.

While the visuals were amazing, the story was less so. With some scenes, it was clear what was happening, and I was able to fully comprehend the context. With others, I was left scratching my head. I put the pace of the movie at blame for my lack of understanding some of the scenes.

The movie quickly introduces the audience to every single major character. This was not only confusing, but done way too fast. It was hard for me to fully appreciate Alita’s relationship with Ido or Hugo because of how fast everything was moving. Within Alita’s first two days of being “alive,” she had already fallen in love with Hugo.

I also didn’t like that the movie introduced a story line and then moved from it. I am still left with questions about Alita’s origin, how Hunter Warriors came to be and other things that were quickly dismissed.

I think the explanation of the quick storyline can be calculated back to the need of a sequel. Because the movie ended with a cliffhanger, it’s pretty obvious the director and producers are hoping for a sequel. While I understand that, it doesn’t mean they can add three different plot lines within one movie. They all worked together in the end, but it was hard to follow while watching the movie.

If there is a sequel, I hope it goes into Alita’s past more and how she ended up in the scrapyard. I think the story is amazing, just executed strangely. I would also love to see what other visuals Cameron would add into the sequel or, if there are more than two Alita movies, the whole series.

Overall, this movie had beautiful visuals and great characters, but I couldn’t fully appreciate them due to the pace. I recommend this movie solely for the visuals and hope the story sorts itself out if there is a sequel. 

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