Alita: Battle Angel

As a quick aside before I get into the review, I went to high school with a guy in this movie! I’ve seen him in movies before and it’s always really wild to see him on the big screen. Seeing someone you know in IMAX 3D jars you out of the movie for a couple of minutes.

Oh this movie! If I had to give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down, I’d give it a thumbs up for sure, but it’s not perfect and there are parts I wish they had left out or done better, but overall I had a great time and I would watch it again. Especially certain action sequences that were ah-mazing!

First off, I think I should say that if I were a member of the MPAA, I would have given this movie an R-rating. It is rated R. It just is. I realize that all of the people dying are futuristic cyborg robot things, but this movie is crazy, crazy violent. People get killed in gruesome, terrible ways. There isn’t much blood, it’s true, but it’s still very jarring. There’s also a few emotional deaths that I think are crossing the line for PG-13 (which is how I felt about Anakin killing all the “younglings” in Star Wars). So, don’t take your kids. If you have a teenager — maybe — but consider, watching it first.

With that caveat out of the way, I’ll move on to the imagery of this movie. It’s phenomenal! There are so many visual delights that I couldn’t even list them all. It’s not just the CG or the direction or the cinematography, either. It’s honest-to-goodness genius and inventive character design and execution. There are so many side characters in this movie that I would love to see more of. I’m looking at you, cyborg dog handler guy.

Also, in the win column is Alita herself. Though she is sometimes a strange amalgamation of CG and actress, her character is written well and compelling. And I liked her. I wanted her to succeed. I would happily watch more of her. Marshala Ali also did his very best in a minor role. Everyone else in the movie? Meh. Jennifer Connolly could have especially done better, and Christoph Waltz seemed to bounce between great and horrible acting throughout the film.

And the action sequences? Top notch. Amazing. There’s a fight scene in a bar that rivals any great action sequence in movies. Like Matrix level awesome.

Unfortunately, the first and last acts are both rushed beyond belief. You can tell that the movie is based on what I’m sure is an intricate and detailed Manga series. I don’t know why they decided to make the movie the way they did, but it makes it hard to get into the movie, and a little bit difficult to walk out happy.

So, yeah. Mostly I liked it. It was uneven, but so great at the high points that I walked away with a smile, and the conviction that it deserves a thumbs up overall.

Rating: 4 stars
Should you watch it? Maybe
Should you take your kids? Please no
What you should watch first: Maybe some Alita Anime (or read the Manga), but I went in blind

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