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Alita: Battle Angel

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Alita: Battle Angel Movie Poster Image
Big effects, lifeless characters in sci-fi action tale.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 122 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Very simple messages have to do with the class system; i.e., a lack of sharing between rich and poor causes a great, horrible divide. Though movie also has themes of female empowerment, they're wrapped up in character who's somewhat objectified for her looks.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some characters try to be good in a difficult world, and others are evil, but characters aren't fleshed out enough to be truly relatable role models. Some objectification of main character.

Violence

Lots of fantasy violence. Martial arts-style fighting. Weapons. Slicing with blades. Stabbing. Characters are killed. A dog is killed. Blood shown (cyborg blood is blue). Punching. Threats. Screaming.

Sex

Sexualized, objectified female characters. Scene of flirting/kissing between young man and female cyborg. Young man shown shirtless.

Language

A use of "f--k," plus infrequent uses of "s--t," "bitch," "piss," "pr--k," "hell," "crap."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Secondary characters drink whisky. Young man says he drank "too much" the night before (sort of hung over).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alita: Battle Angel is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi action movie about a resurrected teen cyborg named Alita (Rosa Salazar). Expect lots of fantasy violence and fighting, including punching, stabbing, slicing, death, and blood (both red human and blue cyborg). Female characters, including Alita, are sexualized and objectified, sometimes in an unsettling way. There's some flirting and kissing between Alita and a young man. Language includes one "f--k" and infrequent use of other words like "crap" and "piss." A secondary character drinks whisky in more than one scene, and a young man mentions having had a bit too much. Co-written by James Cameron, directed by Robert Rodriguez, and based on a manga by Yukito Kishiro, the movie is a guaranteed slam-dunk for fans of the above, but for others, it may feel lifeless and overly reliant on visual effects.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 year old Written bySarah L. February 9, 2019

Not for young children - a lot of violence

This is a very interesting science fiction movie that has loads of violence in it. There is not a lot of blood, more mechanical liquid that is spilled when some... Continue reading
Adult Written bynikkoid February 14, 2019

I have seen the movie (not like most who are giving bad rating)

The film is quite violent sometime but kids are playing video games and are familiar with this kind of violence... there is a lot of feelings and twists, and ev... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bybookworm3284 February 17, 2019

Violent, and surprising bloody for a PG-13 movie.

This film was all over the place. It was entertaining, but disappointing. At some moments it felt like a little kid movie, and then during the action sequence s... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byStephanhurc85 February 13, 2019

What's the story?

In ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL, it's the 26th century, and the world has been devastated by "The Fall." Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) rummages through a scrapyard and finds a cyborg girl with an intact brain. He brings her back to his lab and gives her a new body, calling her "Alita" (Rosa Salazar). She's instantly drawn to a boy named Hugo (Keean Johnson), as well as to a violent sport called Motorball. Hugo secretly works for shady businessman Vector (Mahershala Ali), helping sabotage the professional Motorball matches; Hugo hopes to earn enough money to get to the utopian sky city of Zalem. As Alita begins to learn more about her past and discovers her fighting abilities, she enters a Motorball tryout. But the evil Nova has ordered her killed. Can Alita avoid an army of attacking cyborgs while saving the day?

Is it any good?

This juggernaut-sized sci-fi movie mechanically rehashes a huge collection of genre clichés while bashing its way through an onslaught of visual effects, bad dialogue, and dull, lifeless characters. Co-written by James Cameron and directed by Robert Rodriguez, Alita: Battle Angel feels lost in a bubble; it's clueless about the real world, about real emotions, or about any other, grindingly similar movies that have come out in the real world (Elysium, Ghost in the Shell, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Ready Player One, Mortal Engines, etc.). It's less like the characters are making decisions than they're being pushed through an automatic computer program. The movie has state-of-the-art visual effects, but they aren't enough to rescue Alita from seeming like a visual effect, rather than a character, all the way through.

The other characters aren't human enough themselves to reflect her supposed humanity. Perhaps worse, she's sexualized in an unsettling way, a little like the famous Maria robot in Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but creepier. Overall, Alita: Battle Angel seems to have practically nothing to say. Not even the post-apocalyptic setting appears to be warning humanity about anything in particular. Rodriguez' direction is competent, of course, and the action scenes are well-executed (except for one too many scenes of actors running through crowds and shoving extras aside), but the project isn't really much more than an empty, noisy, soulless, vaguely unpleasant special effects extravaganza.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Alita: Battle Angel's violence. Does the fact that it's relatively bloodless and nonrealistic affect its impact? Why or why not?

  • Is Alita presented as a sexual being? Is she sexualized or objectified? What kind of body image is represented?

  • What's the appeal of the post-apocalyptic genre? What does it try to teach us? Do you think this movie is trying to teach viewers something in particular -- or warn them against something?

  • What does the movie have to say about social classes? Are classes meant to be different and separate? What keeps people from sharing with each other?

  • Do you think this movie is a good example of female empowerment? Is there a cost for the main character's power and freedom? Do you think the characters' relationships are healthy? Honest?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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