The short answer – it is yet to be seen. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Hollywood anime adaptations are nowhere near good. To be honest, I can’t even think of one that comes close to watchable. We naturally rule out Japanese adaptations because they are completely different. Since the last Hollywood one, Ghost in a Shell, tried to cram a huge amount of information into a feature film and failed spectacularly, we thought we’d never see a successful adaptation… until now. Who is Alita and did this movie finally broke the adaptation curse, I’ll break down in this review.
As you can guess, the source is a manga (Japanese comic book) from the early 1990s. The manga gets an anime (Japanese animation) adaptation in 1993, which much like Ghost in a Shell, is anything but children oriented. The graphic elements, violence and emotional weight change the anime’s tone and place it in the adult category. Alita herself is a combat cyborg abandoned in a dump, later found and rebuilt by a modest engineer. Having no memories of what happened, she slowly finds out how unique she is. If the manga is the source, the anime adds several additional layers, but unfortunately gets lost in time. In 2018, when the first trailer for Alita dropped, people were divided into two factions. One faction was the anime fans who were as upbeat, as they were conservative. The other ones were the people who had not even heard of Alita yet, and because of the visuals they immediately said it looked like a “sex doll” and that the movie would never be a hit.
And as Alita landed in cinemas she swept the competition on her first weekend. $51 million with a budget of $170, just in 3 days is a great start. But once we know who Alita is, let’s ask why this may be the first successful adaptation after countless failures. The answer is because the story is so universal that there is no need to change elements to suit the western audience. Ghost in a Shell, for example, is unique to Japan culture and recreating it with American elements has made the film a total scramble. Here it is different. The film presents the story of an underdog female protagonist who turns out to be a total badass. Adding a brilliant and beautiful actress (Rosa Salazar), stunning battle scenes (more and more kung-fu), innovative CGI and face motion technologies , greatly developed love story and well-developed characters, leads to an orgasm for the senses. Even at times the information is so much that you may get lost in it. This may be Alita’s only problem, too many things happening. But this should not scare you, because despite the voluminous story, everything is perfectly arranged and the viewer is only asked to enjoy it.
In conclusion, I want to recommend watching it in IMAX because it really is worth it. James Cameron, though only a producer, has surpassed himself again. Lastly, will this be the movie that will finally break the curse of adaptations? It seems that YES! If you are fans of anime, manga, sci-fi, action, drama, then this movie has it all. “Alita: Battle Angel” is the Ghost in a Shell movie, which we wanted and did not get. Successful adaptation that works. On behalf of all fans I dare to say – Finally!!!!