I’m pretty late to the party on this one, but today I finally watched Alita: Battle Angel. The movie is set in the 26th century and involves a society with a lot of cyborgs in it, including many whose entire body other than their head or brain has been replaced by machinery.
It’s about 300 years after an event known as “the fall”, in which all the floating cities were destroyed in a war. Only one of those floating sky cities remains: Zalem (apparently held up by some kind of anti-gravity technology). Beneath and around Zalem is another city on the ground: Iron City.
Directly underneath Zalem is a scrapyard, where the detritus from the floating city lands, and where Dr. Dyson Ido finds the head and upper torso of a young girl, who is still alive.
Ido attaches the her to a cybernetic body. When she awakens, she has no memory of her past life. He gives her the name “Alita”. What follows is a journey of discovery as Alita learns about her abilities, who she is, and where she comes from, and the society she has awoken in.
It’s a society with a sharp class division, with an affluent population living in the sky city Zalem, and the rest of the hardscrabble population living in Iron City. The people of Iron City dream of finding a way to move up into Zalem, but the options for doing so are very limited. Life is hard and brutal.
It’s difficult to go into much more detail without getting into spoilers. I’ll just note that it’s chock full of action, with plenty of battles between cyborgs with all kinds of attached weaponry. And there are lots of special effects. A big part of the appeal is the imagery, which this movie handles very well.
I have to admit that I hadn’t heard much about this movie so I wasn’t expecting more than moderately entertaining fluff. It surprised me by being more than that. It wasn’t until after finishing it that I learned that it’s based on a classic manga and anime series, and that one of the producers is James Cameron.
It’s not clear if it did well enough financially for sequels. I hope it did. It’d be good to see more. If not, I might have to dig up the anime or manga material.
So, if you’re looking for a couple hours of entertainment, and aren’t turned off by cybernetic body parts and human machine hybrids being ripped apart, and like me have somehow managed to miss this movie until now, I recommend checking it out.