When it comes to live-action adaptations of anime/manga, I’ve always maintained that Guillermo Del Toro’s mech vs monster smash Pacific Rim is the most accurate representation we’ve ever seen (despite it actually not being based on any existing anime/manga). However, a new challenger to that crown may just have appeared in Alita: Battle Angel. And it’s all down to some really creepy eyes.
Based on Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita manga, the film has been stuck in development for longer than I can remember. James Cameron – he of Terminator, Titanic and Avatar fam – first announced his attention to develop a movie around Alita nearly 20 years ago after he was coincidentally put onto it by none other than Guillermo Del Toro. However, Cameron’s adaptation efforts would be delayed by his decision to turn his career into “all Avatar, all the time”. Stuck in the land of giant blue alien smurf Pocahontas, Cameron tagged in Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Spy Kids) to direct while they co-produced and co-wrote along with Avatar scribe Laeta Kalogridis.
And now, after all these years, the movie is finally happening as the first trailer dropped over the weekend giving us our first look at Maze Runner actress Rosa Salazar as the titular Alita and HOLY HELL WHAT IS HAPPENING TO HER FACE?!
It’s clear that Cameron and Rodriguez have decided to emulate the iconic artwork of Japanese manga/anime with its big-eyed characters, but just because it’s accurate doesn’t mean it’s good. This pushes the whole uncanny valley of CG human characters into overdrive for me and actually drags me out of what I’m seeing. And that’s a pity because other than this one rather jarring development, I am very interested in what Alita: Battle Angel has to offer. It’s stacked with top-notch acting talent in the likes of Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali and Rodriguez is a great visual director, I’m just not liking the look of Alita herself. Even Ed Skrein’s Zapan, who is pretty much all CG robotics except for his face, looks more realistic to me. Nailing the human face and all its microexpressions is still the Holy Grail of digital effects, and Alita: Battle Angel definitely has not mastered that feat yet.
The film also stars Jackie Earle Haley, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Eiza Gonzales, and Keean Johnson. It is scheduled for release on 20 July 2018. Here’s the full official synopsis:
Visionary filmmakers James Cameron (Avatar) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) create a groundbreaking new heroine in Alita: Battle Angel, an action-packed story of hope, love and empowerment. Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita (Rosa Salazar) is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. Everything is new to Alita, every experience a first. As she learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield Alita from her mysterious past while her street-smart new friend, Hugo (Keean Johnson), offers instead to help trigger her memories. A growing affection develops between the two until deadly forces come after Alita and threaten her newfound relationships. It is then that Alita discovers she has extraordinary fighting abilities that could be used to save the friends and family she’s grown to love. Determined to uncover the truth behind her origin, Alita sets out on a journey that will lead her to take on the injustices of this dark, corrupt world, and discover that one young woman can change the world in which she lives.
Last Updated: December 11, 2017