Movie Review: Alita: Battle Angel


After a few minor fights, Alita practices her combat moves.

Anna Henning, Activities Beat Leader

With more and more movies feeling too similar, Alita: Battle Angel was an amazing new take on a corrupt society. Its combat sequences, characters, and constant plot twists outshine the stereotypical action film. Alita, the main protagonist, is the female action star we have been waiting for, and she has earned her place among the best female protagonists. This detailed and unique film has different elements to appeal to each audience member’s interests, and is worthy of a watch.

Alita: Battle Angel takes place in the year 2563, years after a major war caused a societal collapse. It shows the Iron City, a place of ruin and desperation. Zalem, a breathtaking city people in the Iron City dream of, is seen as the escape from the horrible reality. It is the goal for every person in the Iron City to earn their way up there, but it is no easy feat. The Iron City is a place ruled by more fear than anything else, full of bounty hunters and hunter-warriors. These people hunt down criminals and use their power to intimidate all who live there.

The film begins when Dr. Dyson Ido, a cybermedic expert, finds the head of a cyborg in a scrapyard of trash from Zalem. To his surprise, the head still has life. He uses his vast knowledge of repairing cyborgs to attach the head to a cyborg body he has held onto for years. This movie is the story of that cyborg, named Alita, and her search for her lost identity.

Once Alita regains consciousness, she has no memory of her origin or name. Dr. Ido names her Alita when she cannot remember. Despite feeling down about her forgotten past, she embraces her new friends quickly with her positive spirit and curiosity. She is mesmerized by the Iron City and its technology, despite it looking like a dump.

I quickly came to love Alita’s character more than I have liked any other female protagonist from the action genre. She demands to not be silenced, but to be taken seriously. In her search for independence like any other teenager, she finds herself in dangerous situations. Even when not involved in a situation, she is quick to intervene, saying, “I do not stand by in the presence of evil.” Alita is not taken seriously by others, who judge only her physical appearance and label her as weak. However, she proves them wrong through her fierce strength, quick reflexes, and strong intuition in combat. When bantering with a hunter-warrior, she says, “‘You made the biggest mistake of your life.’ ‘What?’ ‘Underestimating me.’”

I do not stand by in the presence of evil.”

— Alita

Alita is strong-willed, has an undeniable determination, and answers to nobody but herself. Once she realizes following the paths of others does not work, she learns to embrace her own identity to reach her full potential. Alita defies stereotypical female characters in film, as she is well-rounded in physical, mental, and emotional strength. She is a stunning role model to all, inspiring people through her character and actions.

To match the complex world of the Iron City, there are equally complex characters. I found it difficult when writing this to go into detail about supporting characters without giving anything away. Every single supporting character contains many aspects to their life, diving into different aspects of good and evil. As each character’s actions are revealed, it contributes to a larger plot reveal and was a very well-done aspect of the film. Their stories show how corruption steers them from their values when they are chasing of their dreams—and how they lose parts of themselves in this difficult search.  

We have all seen movies with a strict, controlling government and the characters trying to escape it. Alita: Battle Angel brought a fresh and innovative take on this idea, and was unique to all other versions of this main plot. There were a few cliché moments of suspense that made the film feel less genuine, but overall it was something I have never seen before. The pacing was fantastic, creating a good balance between action sequences and character development. The action was the perfect length as well, and were not drawn out like in the recent release, Aquaman. Besides the fight scenes, this film kept me constantly surprised by its uncountable number of twists. The plot and the tone of the film work together as one, and it all comes together to create one cohesive movie.

This movie mainly focuses on the integrity of characters and how different kinds of people interact. Dr. Ido tells Alita when she gets her new body, “It’s just a shell. It’s not good or bad, that part’s up to you.” Dr. Ido teaches many important lessons to Alita as well as the audience, showing how character drives actions more than strength. Alita: Battle Angel not only addresses actions of an individual, but actions of a society. There is a lot of tension between people and cyborgs in the film, and these resemble racial conflicts of today. The film shows how acceptance and discrimination interact in a society that is both different and similar to our own. Characters in the film are given the decision to dwell on resentment from three hundred years ago or to not discriminate against certain kinds of people.

Considering the number of characters, technology, and set that was CGI, the film was stunningly realistic. The rustic setting perfectly set the tone of the film, and in the middle of the film I had the realization I did not actually exist in this world. The only things that looked slightly out of proportion were the cyborgs, which was done with the intention of them looking slightly less real than real people. For example, Alita’s eyes and facial proportions are not like the average person. Attention to details on the cyborgs such as their intricate bodies was incredible. I like that the cyborgs were humanized by bleeding like a normal person and not being invisible, but were still separated in other ways.

I give Alita: Battle Angel a four out of five stars. Before watching the film, I was not expecting such a great quality from it. Its details, characters, and plot were unique and innovative, and transported me to another world. Even though some people do not like science fiction and action movies, I still think this one is entertaining, inspiring, and worth watching at least once.