Michael Scott

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Alita: Battle Angel


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Movie: :4stars:
4K Video: :4stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :4stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:



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Movie

I’m rabid Anime/Manga fan and have been for over 25 years. I started out watching 90s and 80s Anime as a high schooler, and even as a near 40 year old adult nothing is more cathartic than sitting down and watching a good anime film/manga comic/series to relax (my collection of physical anime media is enough to crack most foundations with the veritable weight). So you can naturally assume that when I heard that James Cameron was producing an adaptation of the famed “Alita” OAV and Manga (the original manga was titled “Gunnm”), AND it was directed by Robert Rodriquez (Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Desperado, Sin City). I’m not going to bore with you a massive set of differences between the anime, the manga and the movie, but sufficed to say that changes have been made to make the brutal and Cronenbergesque series into a live action (sort of, there’s more CGI than a Pixar film) extravaganza.

If I’m to be succinct, the movie takes it’s nods from the original Manga series, encapsulating the first two volumes for the film’s material (the same volumes than the 50 minute OVA anime was taken from), and sticks much closer to the manga canon. However, there are certain characters and motivations that show up in the OVA animation that weren’t in the manga, and those same pieces are blended into the live action movie as well, making Alita: Battle Angel a hybrid of both sources. The tone is changed to be a bit more palatable for a PG-13 audience (and even then, the film pushes the PG-13 violence boundary pretty hard, almost to the point where I wondered why it didn’t get an R-rating, but still NOWHERE near as dark and gory as the Manga it came from), but overall Alita: Battle Angel was a fantastically fun ride that has garnered it a 94% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and has fans clamoring for a sequel.

In the film the year is 2563, and humanity has sort of regressed a bit due to a war with their own colony of Mars that had separated from terran rule years ago. The Martians were a technoarchy, who had used technology in ways that humans had barely begun to even imagine, going so far as to put human cores inside of cybernetic bodies. The war ended with both sides basically wiping each other out, as the Martian forces suicide bombed the great floating cities of Earth and destroyed all but one of them, Zalem. 300 years later (2563) human kind spends life on the surface in abject poverty, while the ruling elite live in Zalem, floating above the masses in a rich city that flourishes while everything below starves. Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) finds the body of a cybernetic being in the trash that Zalem sends down. Putting her into a cybernetic body that he created for his dead child, the cyborg is reborn once more, this time dubbed “Alita” after Ido’s own daughter that the body was meant for.

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Confused about who she is, and with NO memory of her past, Alita (voiced and mo-capped by Rosa Salazar) begins to blend in with the rest of humanity. However, after discovering that Dr. Ido is moonlighting as a hunter warrior (bounty hunters in the frayed world of humanity) Alita’s own past starts to come back after a violent encounter with some of Dr. Ido’s “targets”. It’s obvious that Alita is not just a simple cyborg, and the harder and harder she pushes for answers, the more and more she finds out that she was destined for something so much more.

I won’t spoil some of the plot points that come up in the movie, but needless to say that the movie actually captures the essence of the Manga (and some of the Anime) surprisingly well. Anime/Manga adaptations are tough sells to the general public as they tend to be condensed and only partially intact, as long running series usually have YEARS of backstory to push into one two hour film. The movie manages to use the first two volumes of the manga rather nicely, but also blends in some of the unique characteristics of the 50 minute OVA anime AND infuses some plot points that come up from later arcs in the series as well (such as the motorball arc, as well her realizing that she’s a Martian soldier, which wasn’t discovered early on).

The movie is an action and CGI extravaganza, and is a blast to watch on screen. Rosa Salazar does a fantastic job with creating the character of Alita (though she’s 99% digital on screen), and Christoph Waltz once again dominates every scene he’s in. It’s a bit uncredited, but Edward Norton actually appears for a fraction of a second as Nova, the movie’s big bad guy (which is a weird movie, as in the manga and Anime he’s actually not really a “villain” per se, but rather a mad scientist who is just as flawed as Alita and Ido). There’s the obligatory PG-13 romance with Hugo (Keean Johnson) the parts thief, but overall a lot of the characters are near carbon copies of the brutally dark manga series. Talking about brutally dark, Alita: Battle Angel REALLY pushes the boundaries of the PG-13 rating, as dismembering and CGI blood is everywhere. I think Rodriquez figured out that by putting fake “blue” blood into the cyborg bodies, it could bypass the violence sensors as it was all “robot violence” in that form.

The one complaint that I have from the film is that the movie seems like two story lines pushed into one film, and it’s not hard to see why. The first half of the film deals with the first volume of manga, while the second arc with Hugu and the romance is taken straight from the 2nd volume. So in reality it’s two volumes of Manga being blended together for one movie, and it shows right round the hour mark after Alita has embraced her Martian cyborg body. That being said, the movie is a lot of fun to watch and had me grinning from ear to ear 90% of the time. It once again feels like Pacific Rim all over again, as Alita got smeared by critics while in theaters, but the viewers saw an entirely different movie, leaving it with a 94% positive ratings, and clamoring for an actual sequel (and with a production budget of $170 million and a $404 million world wide box office return, that very well may happen).




Rating:

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language




4K Video: :4stars: Video: :5stars:
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Alita was shot using Arri Alexa cameras at 3.4K resolution and then transferred to an unknown resolution master for final processing on home video (I’m GUESSING a 2K master, but I have no real definitive answer. If anyone has any information about what master was used feel free to message me and I’ll update this review). The end result is simply stunning. The Blu-ray was a perfect 5/5 in my opinion, but this is a very nice upgrade over the Blu-ray. The 2160p image is not wildly more detailed, ore wildly more textured than the Blu-ray, but the real benefit here is the use of HDR. Now I’ve seen more saturated colors with HDR, deeper blacks with HDR, but this film is just so incredibly nuanced and detailed with the use of subtle color changes and depth changes in the color spectrum that it creates an entire tapestry of background images. In fact, the backgrounds of the film are almost more appealing than the foreground. Just like the Blu-ray, the image is a tad soft due to the CGI blended with live action cinematography (the faces on cyborg bodies can look the most egrigious), but that HDR just packs such an incredibly nuanced punch that it makes the Blu-ray look almost drab in comparison. Pores and facial details are improved as well, and the CGI even shows some enhancements. The only quirk is that the CGI looks more like an anime with all of the extra details, as you can see the seams between reality and cartoon much more easily with the added resolution. The faces on the motorball participants near the end makes that really obvious as you can suddenly see their faces gain a more cartoonish look..

Now this is a great video package for sure. Not only do we have the Blu-ray as the 4K UHD’s counter part, but we have the 3D disc (most likely due to insistence from James Cameron, who is a big proponent of 3D even though Fox has mostly ditched the format) to enjoy as well. Well, except for Warner Brothers, there really isn’t a studio out there consistently supporting 3D material, which is kinda sad. I was never a massive proponent for it, but there was a lot of hope for glassesless 3D as well as much more support for it overseas. But Cameron is a MASSIVE proponent of 3D (and he’s actually invented some of the new tech for it) so it is no surprise that his baby, Alita, comes with a 3D option. The 3D in the film is rather subtle, but very impressive. The opening shot in the junkyard doesn’t show much depth to it, but once you get up close with Ido in the foreground, the backgrounds open up dimensionality a lot more. The battle with Grewishka underground uses a lot of the big pop out slow-motion effects of the format, and the motorball scenes showcase it more as well. It is a bit blurry in the motorball shots for some reason, but I didn’t notice any major ghosting in those shots, and I’m EXTREMELY sensitive to ghosting with my eyes. It’s a solid 3D presentation for sure and a great addition to the 4K package.





Audio: :5stars:
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I mentioned in the Blu-ray review that the 7.1 DTS-HD MA was about as perfect as you can get, and I still stand by that. The 7.1 mix is absolutely bonkers, and while it’s upgraded and more nuanced on Atmos, they really are more similar than different. The overheads get used a bit more when Alita’s in the Motorball arena, and the rooftop leaping scenes showcase some incredible sense of motion as the cyborg flips and leaps from roof top to rooftop. The surrounds are just magical, with all sorts of immersive material to revel in, and the bass is just glorious. Deep waves of LFE wash over the listener during the copious battle scenes, as well as the Motorball arena which is pure devastation. It’s not overly aggressive either, as the film can get real quiet real fast, only to blast into sheer chaos in a matter of seconds. While it’s a teensy bit better than the 7.1 DTS-HD MA mix, the Atmos track is not that much better to the point where I would have to downgrade the 7.1 mix from the 5/5 score. They’re both 5/5 perfect, with the Atmos track just being a bit MORE perfect if you know what I mean.






Extras: :4stars:
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• Alita's World – get a deeper look into the world of Alita: Battle Angel with these dynamic motion comics.
- The Fall – a look back at the terrible war that almost destroyed two planets and set the stage for the cyborg warrior Alita's return 300 years later.
- Iron City – Hugo gives a guided tour of the Iron City he knows, showing off its dark corners and broken-down neighborhoods.
- What it Means to be a Cyborg – hunter-warrior Zapan tracks his mark across Iron City while musing about what it means to be a cyborg.
- Rules of the Game – A high-octane "crash course" in Motorball, introducing the rules, game-play, and the top-ranked players and their arsenal of weapons.
• From Manga to Screen – a behind-the-scenes look into the origins of Yukito Kishiro's beloved manga, "Gunnm," and the long road to bring it to life on the big screen.
• Evolution of Alita – how Alita was brought to life, from the casting of Rosa Salazar, to performance capture, and final VFX by WETA Digital.
• Motorball – go inside Iron City's favorite pastime, from the origins and evolution of the sport, to rules on how the game is played.
• James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez and cast Q&A moderated by Jon Landau.
• Robert Rodriguez's 10 Minute Cooking School: Chocolate – a cooking lesson on how to make delicious chocolate like that seen in the movie.
• 2005 Art Compilation (2019) – James Cameron's original compilation of concept art for the then-titled "Battle Angel: Alita," presented with new voiceover and music.
• Scene Deconstruction – view three different stages of the production – the original live-action performance capture, the animation stage, and the final Weta VFX from four different scenes
- I Don't Even Know My Own Name
- Just an Insignificant Girl
- I'm a Warrior Aren't I?
- Kansas Bar





.






Final Score: :4.5stars:


Alita: Battle Angel is a really fun adaptation of the original source material, and changed and tweaked enough that people who have never seen the OVA or the manga will be able to follow along just fine. The film is great on its own, but REALLY seems to be geared towards a sequel. A move that I’m hoping Fox makes due to the rather impressive box office numbers. This 4K UHD package is one that I have to say is done RIGHT. I’ve always been frustrated by studios making a 4K combo pack, a 3D combo pack, and a regular Blu-ray combo pack as it makes viewers forced to get two versions of the film if they wank 4K AND the 3D variant. Fox has made a “megapack” out of the 4K release, giving it the 4K UHD disc, the obligatory Blu-ray disc AND the 3D disc all in the same package! Sadly, like most modern 3D releases, the Atmos mix is missing from the 3D disc, but then again, the Blu-ray only has the 7.1 DTS-HD MA track as well, so can’t complaint too much. Audio and video are top notch on both formats Well worth watching in my opinion.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelley, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson, Jeff Fahey
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Written by: James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis (Screenplay), Yukito Kishiro (Manga)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English DTS-HD MA 2.0, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1, English DVS 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 122 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 23rd, 2019
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Recommendation: Very Fun Watch

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. I will watch this one. :)
 

jdubs75

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Nice review Michael. I cannot wait to see this film!
 

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Watched it last night... awesome movie! It's a keeper for sure.
 

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As someone who did not come from the Anime/Manga realm, the ending should have left me wanting more. Yet all I felt was relief. This one, while much better than the Godzilla movie, was still a bit off. While I appreciated the CGI and all, the story seemed a bit wonky at times to me. Was there something I should have known/read before watching this? In the end, Sonnie said he can't wait for her to go after Nova. Me? I don't know if I'd want to watch another. I probably would though just for the cool CGI work and all of that. But I'd probably wait for it to come down in price before purchasing.
 

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I have to agree... it's too expensive... but I certainly enjoyed it. HOWEVER... I ain't a grumpy old man and I don't drink. :neener:

Michael liked it... 4.5 stars is on the rare side of his reviews.
 

Michael Scott

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I liked it, but the 4.5 came from having some great tech specs.. the movie I'd put a nice solid 4. I liked most of it, but do understand some of the complaints as they wove in so many points from the manga, but left out some crucial pieces too, which kind of hampered the story. But at the end of the day, I did enjoy it. I also think the high price on the disc comes from not only being 4K but adding in the 3D disc as well, so they tried to capitalize on that and squeeze some more cashola out of it
 

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I have to agree... it's too expensive... but I certainly enjoyed it. HOWEVER... I ain't a grumpy old man and I don't drink. :neener:

Michael liked it... 4.5 stars is on the rare side of his reviews.
You're grumpy :olddude:, you just don't see it like everyone else does! :dancebanana:

I liked it, but the 4.5 came from having some great tech specs.. the movie I'd put a nice solid 4. I liked most of it, but do understand some of the complaints as they wove in so many points from the manga, but left out some crucial pieces too, which kind of hampered the story. But at the end of the day, I did enjoy it. I also think the high price on the disc comes from not only being 4K but adding in the 3D disc as well, so they tried to capitalize on that and squeeze some more cashola out of it
Cameron is always pushing his 3D. When's he going to realize that it's dead?!?! They don't put it in every display anymore. As a matter of fact, I believe it's rare to find one that has it. If they do have it, it isn't advertised.
 

Michael Scott

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yeah, 3D is barely hanging on by a razor's thin thread. I wouldn't be surprised to see if vanish within 5-10 years COMPLETELY (but to give credit where credit is due, 3D lasted a LOOOOOOOOOOOOT longer this go around than it has in the past)
 

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It was implemented much better this go around and it had the force of Avatar behind it. Unfortunately, it still didn't address any of the inherent problems with 3D.
 

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What little I have gathered from GlassLess 3D is that it is nothing more than what is out there already - 4K - 60fps - 4:4:4 - 10bit. Get yourself a copy of Billy Lynn's Long Haftime Walk and watch it the way that it was meant to be watched. It's like you're watching the film out of a window. Most folks hate it and that's where the term 'soap opera effect' came from.

And I should add that it isn't out there for a lot of people. Most folks either don't have a display capable of it or just aren't set up properly for it. 4K - 60fps - 4:4:4 - 10bit is more than what most systems can handle - that's like 22Gbps bandwidth. My living room setup is what we watched the Billy Lynn movie on and it is all top shelf gear and cables. I have yet to try that film on my projector setup but I'll have to check it out cause now I'm curious. And that is only available via the disc - it can't be streamed AFAIK.

Maybe it will have to wait for HDMI 2.1? :justdontknow:
 

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From what I read they are going to be using special projectors with outrageous lumen output for the theaters. They have not said what theaters will be doi g this yet as far as I know...just the i fo on who is making the projectors for the theaters, and the NITs.
 

mechman

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I just watched Billy Lynn on my Epson 5050 setup last night - My Sony UHD player drops the video to 4:2:2 - due to the limitation of HDMI 2.0. The quality seems the same - it still has the high frame rate (soap opera) look to it.

I really don't see a lot of theaters running out and getting new equipment for GlassLess 3D at all. They got burned pretty bad the last time around and I think they remember that. And IMAX just took it all out so I think it's very fresh in their memory. Don't get me wrong, some will do it. It just won't be as widespread as 3D was a decade ago. I'd think it would be more like the Dolby Cinemas. That's been out for awhile and here in the Twin Cities there are only 2!

We should probably let this thread get back on track to Alita though.
 

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Hey knucklehead... what does Billy Lynn have to do with my favorite movie that you don't like and talk bad about cause you grumpy. Huh?
 

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Speaking of knuckleheads... Hi Sonnie! :wave:
 

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Squirrel!
 
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