James Cameron as a producer and Robert Rodriguez as the director of Alita: Battle Angel have such a firm grip on the mechanical heartbeat of what it means to be a teenager that they can control the flow of Alita whatever way they will. No sci-fi movie has a better sense of the highs and lows; of being caught between the mundane and the grand; between being the good child and the rule breaking rebel; to being the ultimate victor in their own magna.
Like the teen years it can be boring and familiar; seem alive the first time, achingly sad the third and plodding cliché the 100th as Alita plays through the video game awareness levels of becoming an adult. Life is a competition and a tragedy, a betrayal, a sappy romance and the worst repetition of everything.
Robert Rodriguez never disguises the fact that Alita can be everything and nothing all at once. The effects being greater than the whole is the entire point. The moth always thinks itself greater and brighter than the gathering swarm.
Rosa Salazar captures this essence of Alita to wide eye magna perfection. Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing her originality being pummeled and severed by the motorball and bounty hunting hordes that populate Alita’s action and plot beats. The great middle finger moment when she raises her sword to a resisting cloud city is something every teen can relate to.
All photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox.