Alita: Battle Angel is only the latest in a long line of live-action anime adaptations. Most have not just been bad but horrendous.
Transitioning from an animated style to a live action style is a barrier that is difficult to overcome. Not only is it difficult to make things that worked in an animated form translate to the real world, but you also have to meet expectations of a built-in fanbase.
The built-in fanbase guarantees a few ticket sales but they also can generate a lot of negative press if you have an incompetent director who makes changes to the source material. *Cough* Dragonball Evolution, Airbender, Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist *Cough*
Has there ever been a live-action adaptation of a manga/anime that was any good?
For the first time, I have to say, “yes”. Alita: Battle Angel was as close to good as I could hope for. It wasn’t great and maybe I am giving it a lot of slack since I’m comparing it to box office black mold like Dragonball Evolution.
Alita: Battle Angel tells the age-old story of a young 300-year-old cyborg girl from Mars that a cybersurgeon takes in as a surrogate daughter because he turned a patient into a roid-rage death machine.
What? You haven’t heard that one before?
I never read the manga and only watched a few episodes of the anime so I can’t say for certain how faithful the adaption was. A lot of scenes from the anime were directly mirrored in the movie. So, at the very least, it wasn’t just some director’s vision of what it should have been.
I am happy to inform you that Alita did not come off as some Mary Sue. She fell down but got herself back up and had a very heroic arc.
The action was top notch and the acting ranged from adequate to damn good.
There were two major flaws that kept the movie from jumping right out of being an enjoyable bad movie and into being a good movie.
One was that almost every full cyborg character besides Alita looked like they just sloppily bluescreened someone’s face on a CG body. Dumb looking faces superimposed onto a transformer broke my immersion more than once.
The second flaw, and far more unforgivable was the multiple scenes where characters would behave in a way that made no sense unless a scene was cut. Alita goes to plead to a bar full of bounty hunters for help and talks about how she was told they were “heroes”. Despite no one in the movie ever telling her this.
When did she get this information? Was this in the anime/manga? Probably. For the most part, they seemed to do a good job of compressing a lot of story into a movie but it felt like reading a book with a couple of important chapters missing.
According to the people, I saw the film with there was a third flaw in the way Alita’s face creeped them out. Personally, I’d seen a trailer a while back and the uncanny valley feeling of those too big eyes no longer bothered me.
Even if it wasn’t anywhere close to the movie of the year, in my opinion, Alita: Battle Angel is the best live action adaptation of an anime property.
Alita: Battle Angel Vs The Five Bs Of Enjoyable Bad Movies
There is a lack of blood when compared to the anime. To keep things PG-13 Alita: Battle Angel cut out the pools of blood and exposed breasts that kept me from watching the anime when it first aired.
There is plenty of dismemberment but it’s robot parts being shredded. There are a couple of decapitations but they are either robot necks or strangely enough done to save someone’s life.
The one time there was a blood splatter Alita put the blood on her face like warpaint… so maybe it was a good thing nobody else got liquified. Had their brain put in a jar, sure, but not liquified.
There is a major babe deficit in this film. The titular character appears much too childlike to be considered a babe which makes the romance a touch creepy. Even beyond the part where she offers to cut out her own heart so the guy she likes could afford a trip to Disneyland.
Jennifer Connelly is still smoking hot for being 49 years old but she didn’t come close to stealing the show.
There are a few villains but the big bad is never really seen. He has the ability to override people with the appropriate cybernetic implant and use their bodies like puppets. While the concept was horrifying it was difficult to gauge his effectiveness as a villain.
He is shown as some kind of mastermind but instead of sending all of his death robots after the girl he wants dead he offers her a couple of jobs. Like she is working for the guy that wants her dead in two different jobs by the end of the movie.
The boom is where Alita: Battle Angel shines! The fight scenes were enjoyable to me even if they occasionally look like spillover from a Transformers movie.
By the end, I wanted to see a sequel just so I could see more of the frenetic action.
The acting was ok. The main actress Rosa Salazar did a fantastic job and even had me clap when delivering the line “Fuck your mercy”. This was not a movie packed with standout roles but everyone did a serviceable job.