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Robert Rodriguez
Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly
Writing Credits:
James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis

A deactivated cyborg is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.

Box Office:
$14 million.
Opening Weekend:
$11,282,333 on 2824 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Dolby 2.0
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 122 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 7/23/2019
• “Alita’s World” Motion Comics
• “From Manga to Screen” Featurette
• “Evolution of Alita” Featurette
• “Motorball” Featurette
• London Screening Q&A
• “10 Minute Cooking School”
• 2005 Art Compilation
• Scene Deconstruction
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Alita: Battle Angel [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 24, 2019)

Based on a Japanese manga series that originated in the 1990s, Alita: Battle Angel took an extended period to reach movie screens. I wish I could say it was worth the wait, but the film doesn’t really gel.

Set in the 26th century, we learn that a massive war caused a societal collapse 300 years earlier. In the story’s present day, cyborgs exist as a standard segment of the world, and Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) operates on them.

Dr. Ido scavenges for parts at the local dump, and there he finds the remnants of an advanced cyborg created centuries earlier with technology now lost. Dr. Ido pairs the girl’s head with a mechanical body and names her “Alita” (Rosa Salazar).

The teen girl remembers nothing about her prior existence, but she soon learns that she possesses amazing combat abilities. Armed with these skills, Alita attempts to learn more about her past and her true identity.

That synopsis leaves out a fair amount of plot material, mainly because a more complete overview would wear out my tired old fingers. Within its 122 minutes, Angel packs in a slew of story points, so many that it becomes an awfully scattered experience.

At its heart, Angel follows the path I describe above, but it dips its toe in a bunch of other areas as well. We get Alita’s romantic relationship with local bad boy Hugo (Keean Johnson), Dr. Ido’s connection to estranged wife Chiren (Jennifer Connolly), aspects of Dr. Ido’s own troubled past, a conspiracy led by Vector (Mahershala Ali) and the mysterious “Nova”, Alita’s flirtation with the game “Motor Ball”, and probably 14 other segments I forgot.

See why I said it’d require a lot of typing to accurately cover the entire film’s narrative? Just that synopsized synopsis makes my fingers want to take a couple weeks off.

The cinematic Angel simply bites off more than it can chew. Even though it ends with a definite nod toward a possible sequel, it feels like the filmmakers fretted that this one movie would become their only shot at the property so they crammed in as much as they could.

This doesn’t work, as Angel feels like a mini-series chopped down to feature length. While I don’t think the movie flows poorly, it nonetheless attempts too many story/character points for any to receive the necessary screen time.

Angel occasionally springs to life via a few solid action scenes. In particular, the section where Alita discovers her battle skills offers real thrills and gives us the movie I hoped to get.

Unfortunately, too little of Angel follows suit. Outside of the occasional vivid fight segment, the movie tends to drag and fail to engage.

Erratic visual effects don’t help, especially as they connect to our lead character. To be sure, computer-generated imagery seems much more convincing than in the past, but I still don’t think these elements can create truly believable humans.

Granted, Angel gets an “out” there since Alita isn’t supposed to provide an actual human, but even with this caveat in my mind, she just fails to come across as a realistic organic entity. Too much of the time, Alita seems disconnected from her surroundings, as she doesn’t always mesh well with the actual humans.

Pre-release, the filmmakers got a lot of complaints due to Alita’s big eyes, but those don’t become an issue. It’s not the size of Alita’s eyes that prevent the suspension of disbelief – it’s the lack of life behind them.

Of all organic elements, eyes seem to be the toughest for computers to accurately reproduce. Try as they might, the CG wizards can’t create eyes that show a true sense of intelligence and believability, and that hamstrings Alita.

In addition, other aspects of the character fail the smell test. In particular, Alita’s hair moves in strange ways that don’t feel real.

All of this adds up to a lead character who never quite connects with the audience in a believable manner. Since we need to bond with Alita and invest in her journey, our inability to see her as part of the real world becomes a definite concern.

Even with flawless effects, though, Angel would feel mediocre. We get a lot of talent involved, from three Oscar-winning actors to James Cameron as writer/producer to Robert Rodriguez as director, but none of them seem able to alleviate the movie’s basic flaws.

As noted earlier, I think the property would fare better as a long-form effort. No, this wouldn’t make the CG Alita more convincing, but at least the rest of the tale would fare better.

As a two-hour movie, though, Angel disappoints. Every once in a while, it lives up to its potential, but too much of the flick seems scattershot and lifeless.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Alita: Battle Angel appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As expected, this became a fine presentation.

At all times, sharpness appeared positive. As such, I thought the image seemed accurate and well-defined. I noticed no signs of shimmering or jaggies, and the movie lacked any print flaws.

Teal? Check. Orange? Check. Color-related creativity? Nope. The hues followed predictable stylistic paths, but the Blu-ray executed them in a positive manner.

Blacks were always deep and tight, and I saw good contrast as well. Shadows seemed clear and appropriately opaque. The Blu-ray became a strong reproduction of the film.

In addition, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 track of Angel lived up to expectations, as the mix used all the channels in a lively, involving manner. Vehicles, weapons, and other action elements popped up from all around the room and delivered a smooth, engrossing soundscape.

This meant nearly constant material from the surrounds. The back speakers delivered a high level of information and created a great sense of place in that domain. All of this melded together in a vivid, satisfying manner.

Audio quality was also strong. Music seemed full and bold, while speech was consistently natural and crisp.

Effects became the most prominent component, of course, and packed a solid punch, with positive clarity and range. As a soundscape, Angel delivered the goods.

Under the banner Alita’s World, we locate four motion comics: “The Fall” (five minutes, five seconds), “Iron City” (3:19), “What It Means to Be a Cyborg” (2:28), and “Rules of the Game” (2:52).

As expected, these shorts offer backstory about the characters and circumstances found in Angel. They’re more expository than entertaining, but they’re useful in the way they flesh out the material.

Some featurettes follow, and From Manga to Screen runs 20 minutes, 47 seconds. It includes notes from director Robert Rodriguez, writer/producer James Cameron, producer Jon Landau, creator Yukito Kishiro, concept designer supervisors Ben Procter and Dylan Cole, co-production designer Caylah Eddleblute, production designer Steve Joyner, and actor Rosa Salazar

“Screen” examines the source and its adaptation, story/characters, scripts and development and design choices. It focuses mainly on the representation of the original “Manga”, and it follows that subject well.

With Evolution of Alita, we locate a 19-minute, 43-second piece that features Rodriguez, Salazar, Cameron, Landau, Joyner, Eddleblute, Procter, Cole, stunt coordinator Garrett Warren, assistant stunt coordinator/fight choreographer Steve Brown, Weta visual effects supervisor Nick Epstein, senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri, Weta animation supervisor Michael Cozens, visual effects supervisors Richard Saindon and Richard Hollander, visual effects creative supervisor Richard Baneham, Weta limited CG, compositing, motion and FX supervisor Emile Ghorayeb, visual effects plate and motion capture unit supervisor Dejan Momcilovic, Weta limited lead artist Mark Haenga, and actor Jorge Lendeborg.

The show examines the lead character, Salazar’s performance, effects and related subjects. We find a nice overview of the work that brought Alita to the screen.

Motorball lasts six minutes, two seconds and brings comments from Salazar, Cameron, Landau, Rodriguez, Procter, Warren, Eddleblute, Letteri, Cozens, Lendeborg, and supervising art director A. Todd Holland.

As expected, this show examines aspects of the movie’s sporting contests. It tends to feel fluffier than the other programs, but it still delivers some useful details.

Next we find a 26-minute, 38-second London Screening Q&A. Hosted by Landau, it includes Rodriguez, Cameron Rosa Salazar and acyprs Jennifer Connelly and Christoph Waltz.

They reply to Internet-generated fan questions and discuss bringing the manga to film, story/character areas, cast and performances, effects and connected areas. Inevitably, some of this leans toward promotion, but the Q&A brings a pretty good level of information.

A quirky feature typical of Rodriguez releases, 10 Minute Cooking School spans five minutes, 28 seconds and presents Rodriguez as he tells us how to make our own chocolate. Ignore the discrepancy between the 10 minutes of the title and the actual running time and this becomes a fun lesson.

Under 2005 Art Compilation, we see a 14-minute, 20-second that displays concept material accompanied by narration about the movie’s universe. It becomes an appealing collection.

Finally, we get a Scene Deconstruction. This allows us to flip from original photography to the animation stage to the final film for four scenes, with a total running time of 10 minutes, 48 seconds. “Deconstruction” brings a fun way to see the different aspects of the production.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Angel. It includes the four motion comics and “Manga” but lacks the other extras.

Literally years in the making, Alita: Battle Angel doesn’t seem worth the long wait. While the film occasionally springs to life, it lacks consistency and bores more than it delights. The Blu-ray brings excellent picture and audio along with a fairly informative set of supplements. Given all the talent involved, Angel disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.25 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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