James Cameron has been talking about making a Battle Angel movie for years. As an old-school anime fan, I never really thought it would happen. But now, we have the first trailer for Alita: Battle Angel, directed by Robert Rodriguez and based off Yukito Kishiro’s manga and its anime adaptation.
The manga is one of the pile of cyberpunk-inspired manga released around that time, alongside stuff like Ghost in the Shell. Alita, called Gally in the original story, is a discarded cyborg discovered as just a head and chest by a cybernetic doctor. The doctor revives her but she finds she has just fragments of memories left, with one of those fragments being some rather impressive martial arts skills. To figure out who she was, Alita becomes a bounty hunter and eventually a Motorball player.
Cameron says the film will focus on the core story of her memories and incorporate the Motorball aspect, so it seems like it might be a pretty faithful adaptation. The look of the movie seems to confirm that, though not necessarily in the best way.
The mix of CG and live-action is a little offputting, especially when we’re looking at Alita’s obviously-inhuman face, which stands right in the middle of the uncanny valley, in comparison to the many distinctly-human characters. The CG feels extra shiny and sticks out more than it should. This is only a first trailer, so I’m hoping that’s not some final-draft stuff, and that we get a better-looking product in the end.
Even so, it’s really something to finally get a trailer for another movie that’s been in the works for so long. Cameron’s been talking about this movie since at least 2001. Nearly two decades later, we’re almost to the finish line. It’s awesome to see something going so far back come to fruition. Hopefully, Alita will hit closer to the mark than Ghost in the Shell.
Alita: Battle Angel is set to release on July 20, 2018.