Alita Battle Angel

The year is 2563, 300 years since “The Fall.” The only sky city left is Zalem, where the residents of Iron City, which resides directly below, can only hope to ascend to one day. While scavenging a junkyard, Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) discovers the upper half of a young female cyborg with a fully functional brain. He puts her back together and names her Alita (Rosa Salazar), after his late daughter. Alita has no memory of her past life, but quickly learns to navigate the dangerous streets of Iron City and discovers she is quite the skilled fighter. She will need those talents as dark forces are beginning to line up against her.

No hyperbole, this is the best science fiction action movie since The Matrix. Hard to believe it has been 20-years since Lana and Lilly Wachowski unleashed that game changer, but with James Cameron (writer) and Robert Rodriguez (director) behind this story, it’s understandable how it took two decades before something just as powerful came along.

The character of Alita looks like something between a robot, a real human being and something a little animated that flawlessly interacts with a live cast. It takes the art of performance capture technology to a whole new level. Rosa Salazar was on set acting right alongside her fellow actors while wearing a specially designed suit and cameras to catch even the smallest facial tick to help bring this special digital character to life.

One element that helps this standout is how the story unfolds. The 26th Century is a new world for all of us to learn and we experience it through Alita’s eyes as she first experiences it too. When her eyes open wide at discovering something new, our eyes are opening twice as wide at the wonder. It’s always important for an audience to identify with the characters, here we almost feel like we are her.

After James Cameron came out with Avatar the early 2010s movies had a large uptick of 3D releases. When other studios saw it become the number one picture of all time, thanks in part to the 3D sales, they obviously wanted in on the action. The problem was many of those were converted to the new format in post-production and usually pretty poorly. However, this one time you absolutely must see it in 3D and if possible on a large format screen as well. The combination turns this into a genuine experience not to be missed.

Robert Rodriguez is no stranger in delivering great action and he doesn’t disappoint here. Along with pronominal special effects, the combat is gripping! Junkie XL provides the musical score that really brings an “edge of your seat” feel during all the conflict. This is usually the kind of popcorn flick we get during the summer. If you and your significant other are action junkies, this is one wild ride to spend your Valentine’s Day.

3.5 Swords