Let me plead ignorance from the get-go - I don't do manga. But then I don't read Marvel comics either, yet I feel perfectly comfortable reviewing MCU movies (click here, here or indeed here for my thoughts on last year's crop). See, sometimes an outside perspective can be helpful. Alita: Battle Angel is perhaps the first live-action adaptation from Japanese graphic novel source-material to have enthused manga fans, succeeding where films like Ghost in the Shell let them down. But does it work for members of the wider audience? Well more than this outsider was expecting.
All that's a shame, for elsewhere Alita really succeeds. The Dystopia - inevitably influenced by a dozen others - is a spectacular brand of grimy, while the performance capture of Alita and her fellow cyborgs is integrated seamlessly into the live action. Director Robert Rodriguez provides the action with grace and flow (backed up by first-rate cinematographer Bill Pope), and the crazy Murderball sequences benefit in particular. As for the acting, Rosa Salazar proves a sympathetic lead as Alita, her performance rendered impressively by the effects process. Waltz is in ultra-likeable Django Unchained mode, while Londoner Ed Skrein is a hissable lower-order villain - hunter-warrior Zapan.
Credit to writer-producer Cameron (and I'm not always first in line to praise the Titanic-meister) for risking a brand-new cinema property rather than rehashing something old. And added props to him and Rodriquez for impressing manga fans with the result. For as long as Alita was working as a standalone story I felt a thrill of excitement, one which started to fade once the movie took on that groundwork-laying quality. You know, plot-cramming to set up future films, rather than keeping things tight in the immediate story. I enjoyed the movie much more than I'd anticipated, but I wish it had kept a tighter rein on the tale being told.
Memorable Moment: Going to need a new body then...
Ed's Verdict: 7/10. A technical triumph, if not a storytelling one. There's much to enjoy in Alita, not least its central character and her various cyborg showdowns. For this non-manga fan, it fell the right side of okay.