The Matrix Revolutions (2003): The Strongest Parts of the Story are in the Matrix

“The Matrix Revolutions” is the weakest of the 3 live-action Matrix films but is still worth seeing even with the flaws that carry over from “Reloaded” and the lack of setup for some of the events in this film. Still I do recommend this fun and flawed film. It isn’t as good as “Reloaded” but it is still compelling for what it tries to do.

The film was directed and written by the Wachowskis.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) finds himself trapped in a limbo reality as Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) work to save him as the machines close in on Zion.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The race to find some way to stop the machines is powerful as well as the threat of Agent Smith and his possessing of a human and this is on top of trying to rescue Neo from the limbo reality and facing the Merovingian again. You feel the stakes in this film from the very start.

The Rescue of Neo – Neo is rescued when Seraph, Morpheus and Trinity take out the Merovingian’s men guarding Club Hel. It is a great action sequence and Trinity outsmarts the Merovingian as her love is shown to be greater than his selfishness.

The Machine City – The Machine City is haunting with dark tubes, the human pods and electricity everywhere and a variety of machines. It feels completely alien and I wish we could have explored it more. It was the only interesting place outside the Matrix.

The Characters – The characters are once again great with ones who deserved more exploration being Commander Lock and Captain Mifune who are the most memorable faces of the Zion resistance against the invading machines. For programs, I wanted Persephone and the Merovingian to get more development as well as Seraph. Great in the scenes they are in at least.

The Oracle – Mary Alice is great as the new oracle as we see how changing forms hurt as well as how much she fights for human freedom and is Neo and humanity’s ally. Every scene she is in is strong and I like that she is the character at the end who tells us Neo will return again.

Captain Niobe – Jada Pinkett Smith gets the chance to shine this film as she gets the survivors to Zion and stops the first wave of the machine invasion and is active throughout the film taking control of her destiny. It is thanks to her that peace happens as without her giving Neo her ship he never would have made peace with the machines and stopped Agent Smith.

Morpheus – Laurence Fishburne is once again fantastic as Morpheus. His arc is leaving Neo to join humanity in their last stand and from it his love and relationship with Niobe is reestablished. I wish he’d done more but even after his faith was broken he still found a way to have hope and believe again.

Trinity – Trinity is the driver of this story as she is the one to rescue Neo and to help Neo reach the Machine City even though she dies in the process. It is a powerful scene and like Neo her choices drive the story and Neo would have failed without her. Carrie-Anne Moss owns this role.

Agent Smith – Hugo Weaving clearly had so much fun in this role. He gets to laugh and ham it up so much. This character was endearing in “The Matrix” and he is a consistently great antagonist through this entire series. You can see how he is the death to Neo’s fighting for life and how he can’t see anything beyond his own existence and destruction. There are moments he clearly hates himself which I didn’t expect but fits given his insecurities. Before he turns the Oracle into him he calls her Mom showing how personal this mission is for him.

Neo – Keanu Reeves is so iconic as Neo and is one of the strongest parts of this film. His love for Trinity feels real in this film and I like how he’s coming to understanding the humanity, personhood, sentience of the programs and how that understanding leads to his eventually making peace with the machines and realizing it is possible. It is a powerful arc and I’m curious how he’s going to be brought back in “Matrix Resurrections.”

The Final Fight and Dialogue – The final fight is like the finale of an anime and is fantastic. It doesn’t even feel long since we get a variety of locations (the air, in a building, on the ground, etc.) and Neo and Smith’s dialogue with Smith on the inevitability of death and Neo choosing to persevere. It is great and this is Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving completely in their element. It is a great end for the characters with Smith’s final defeat and Neo’s sacrifice.

Personhood and the Perspective of Programs – One thing I loved were the moments of humanization we get of the programs. Two programs make a deal with the Merovingian so their daughter won’t have to return to the source and we see the pain the Oracle went through when the Merovingian forced her to take another form in which she lost parts of who she was prior. Smith’s hatred and nihilism is there as well as the Merovingian’s selfishness too. We also saw Persephone’s drive as she once again recognizes Trinity’s love which in the end forces the Merovingian to free Neo.

The Cons:

The Missing Program Resistance Against Smith – Why didn’t we see Agents of the machines and the Merovingian’s minions fighting Agent Smith? They knew he was conquering so why couldn’t we have seen that resistance? It would have given reason to why the machines take Neo’s peace offer too.

The Fight in Zion – The fight in Zion goes on way too long and it doesn’t vary enough to keep it interesting. You have mechs fighting sentinels and infantry fighting the machine drills and that is it. There is no variety in the action except Captain Niobe trying to get back to Zion with Link and Morpheus. This is repeated again too after they arrive so the action in Zion is never good.

Excess of Action – Like “The Matrix Reloaded” the action scenes end up going on too long, especially the defense of Zion that could have had a half hour cut out and be better for it. None of the characters defending Zion are given much dimension either, which is a shame given how fleshed out the Programs we meet are.

No Setup for Deus Ex Machina – Given that Dues Ex Machina is the leader of the machines I would have liked it being mentioned at least once. The programs would know about it so why wouldn’t they tell Neo that he needs to speak to it? This was a mistake that could have been a really easy fix. Deus Ex Machina still looks haunting and amazing at least, like the rest of Machine City.

The characters, exploration of the programs, the action and sequences in the Matrix and the Machine City carry this film over the problems of excess and some of the very real plot holes in this film. I enjoyed it even though it isn’t as good as “Reloaded” and I do recommend this universe if you are looking for a wonderful cyberpunk world. “Revolutions” works for what it is and is worth your time.

Final Score: 7.4 / 10

The Matrix Reloaded (2003): Compelling Characters and Ideas Brought Down by Tell and Excess

“The Matrix Reloaded” is a film I hadn’t seen for years and in my initial viewing back in High School I had hated it. My perspective has changed since then. This isn’t like the first film and is trying to tackle different themes. “The Matrix Reloaded” still isn’t what I’d consider a good film but it is enjoyable and the compelling ideas, characters and themes do make it a film worth recommending even if the pacing and excess keep the film from being good or great.

The film was directed and written by the Wachowskis.

The story takes place 6 months after “The Matrix” as humanity must face the threat of the machines who are tunneling towards Zion as Neo (Keanu Reeves) learns the truth of his being and the nature of the Matrix while facing new and old threats within it.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – This film does a good job of laying down the stakes. We have the ticking time bomb of the robot invasion and another rising threat revealed early in Agent Smith who can infect others and is using it to conquer the Matrix. From the get-go what happens in the story should matter.

The Action – This is a film that still works as an action film. Some of the action scenes go on a little too long but so many of them are still iconic and memorable. For example protecting the Keymaker in the freeway fight, the first fight against the Agents, Neo against the Merovigians men and Neo versus the Agent Smiths. Each of these standout even if they could have been made shorter and would have been improved by it.

The Threat of Agent Smith – When I was younger I wasn’t a fan of Agent Smith being brought back, now in the rewatch I don’t mind it as he is a dark reflection of Neo as he is using his own freedom to take away the choice that Neo is striving to bring as “The One.” We also see that he can possess humans too and he single handily ruins a human counter attack to the machines leaving Zion vulnerable for invasion.

The Agents of the System – There are 3 enemy factions in this film. The system run by the Machines and the Architect who have agents as their minions, the free programs like the Merovingian who are out for their own power and keeping a status quo and staying hidden from the system and Agent Smith who is attempting to conquer the system. The agents of the system are a great threat in this and even succeed in killing Trinity until Neo brings her back from the dead. They are a consistent threat and even the Merovigian’s supernatural minions have trouble with them. After the events of “The Matrix” the machines and the system they uphold are doing all they can to uphold the status quo and don’t even seem to be aware of the poison within the system with Agent Smith.

The Characters – The characters in this are memorable just like those in “The Matrix.” I’ll be going into some of the standout ones here of both the program and human variety.

The Programs – For ones I won’t be exploring since I’ve already mentioned them you have the Architect holding up the system who shows “The One” is just an anomaly to be controlled and Agent Smith a free agent infecting the Matrix with his program and seeking to be the only remaining entity left. There is also the Keymaker who is seeking to change the system and the Oracle’s protector Seraph. Each of these are memorable characters but don’t standout narratively as much as the programs I chose.

The Oracle – The Oracle is back and in this we see her helping Neo to reflect on choice as she does see each choice as inevitable. There is a sadness to her character but the wisdom is still there as she is seeking to change the system in her own way as she is the answer to the tyranny of the Architect and the machines.

The Merovingian – The Merovingian is an old program who only lives for himself and is one of the villains of the film. He has recruited past agents and sees everything as his. He is selfish and powerful and it was fascinating to see him face off against his wife Persphone who still believes in more and of course Neo who is a direct threat to his power in saving the Keymaker from him. I wanted to learn more about this guy and his minions of rogue programs.

Persephone – Monica Bellucci’s Persphone is amazing. She is in a powerplay with her cheating husband and helps Neo if he kisses her like he kisses Trinity. She clearly still believes in love and there was a time that the Merovingian was like Neo we learned. This sadness and anger drives her and I wanted a story about her. She helps Neo, Trinity and Morpheus so clearly believes in a higher cause on some level as she would have had easier ways to get back the thin-skinned Merovingian.

Humanity – The people of Zion are fascinating with standout characters I won’t be exploring deeper being Commander Lock played by Harry Lennix who is charge of Zion’s defense and is Morpheus’s rival. Captain Niobe his and Morpheus’s former lover and constant played by Jada Pinkett Smith and Councillor Hamann who suggests the interconnected relationship between humanity and the machines. All of them are great but the ones who standout and have more notable arcs I’ll be exploring below.

Link – Harold Perrineau’s Link was Dozer and Tank’s brother who we learn died (Dozer did in “The Matrix” and Tank did later) and with it he is torn with his promise to follow Morpheus he made to Dozer and the wish of his family. His arc is becoming a believer as we see him become strong in his faith over the course of the film, as a contrast to Morpheus whose world is broken.

Morpheus – Laurence Fishburne continues to be one of the strongest parts in this series and he is given quite a few moments to shine in this film. Whether it is matching an agent in a one on one fight, matching the Ghost Twins who serve the Merovigian and standing his ground against Agent Smith. Physically and among the populace he is at his height. It is Neo who breaks his world when he tells him that the prophecy is a lie and the Sentinels destroy his ship. By the end of the film all his core beliefs are in question and he’s more isolated than he’s ever been as humanity’s existence is on the precipice with the machines so close to Zion.

Trinity – Carrie-Anne Moss’s Trinity is the literal heart of the film as she is what motivates Neo to break the cycle of returning the Matrix to the status quo and becoming “One” with the source code. She like Morpheus has grown in strength too as she holds off those same enemies as he did and is even brought back to life by Neo, mirroring how she saved him when he was killed in the Matrix. Like Morpheus and Neo she is left with little hope though as none of them know what moves they can make next to stop the machines.

Neo – Keanu Reeves is amazing as Neo and in this film he is fully in his element as “The One.” We see him flying everywhere and easily ending most fights he enters with the exception of being overwhelmed by Agent Smiths. His big moment is facing his choice to save Trinity but lose the world and expected peace that the Matrix forces. It fits his character but he is lost and you see how much he goes through in the loss of Trinity briefly and in having to break Morpheus’s faith with the truth of the Matrix. Neo isn’t the first “One” but throughout the story we see that he is unique in his love of Trinity. He also takes on some of the Matrix source code as he is able to destroy Sentinels in the real world as he passes out and after doing so and we see him across from Bane, a human possessed by Agent Smith who helped the machines destroy humanity’s ship defenses. In this way the cliffhanger works as it continues this rivalry between the two.

Choice versus Destiny – A major theme of this film is choice versus destiny. Destiny seems to be what is expected as the Oracle, Architect and Merovigian all argue that it is inevitable with only the Oracle posting that it is in understanding the choice we make that difference can be made. Neo and Agent Smith are the drivers of choice and Trinity too as Morpheus and his prophecy are part of that destiny camp though that belief is broken or at least shaken by the end.

Chaos versus Order / Change and Assimilation in the System – The other major theme is that of chaos against order. The Matrix is a system created by the machines and the powerful programs like the Architect and Oracle end up upholding it in their own ways. The chaotic nature of “The One” is even incorporated into the Order. In that way the chaos is in choice and going against what is expected which we see in Agent Smith’s freedom (Who uses it to create a new order) and Neo who is still figuring out what his power means and how he can affect the system. All past attempts to change just lead to the system assimilating them and resetting the status quo of the survivors of Zion against the Machines and now all is out of balance because of Neo’s choice to save Trinity as we move forward with humanity on the precipice of extinction. I can’t remember all of “The Matrix Revolutions” so really curious how these themes are explored more deeply.

The Cons:

Pacing – This film drags in a few places most notably when the Architect explains the past “Ones” and how the Matrix upholds itself as the status quo, the rave scene and Neo’s flashforward dream. Each of these ruin the flow of the film and bring down some of the ideas being presented.

Slow-Motion Action – Contributing to the pacing is slow-motion action. We get this in nearly every fight and it ruins the flow so much. In “The Matrix” this was used sparingly where here it is used in every action scene and often times contributes to ruining the flow of those action scenes.

Excess and the Need for Editing – the slow-motion and pacing are both examples of excess within the film. This film could have easily cut out half an hour and would be better for it as a lot of the action holds up the plot rather than driving the plot like in the original “Matrix.” This is a shame as there are still some amazing action scenes but it isn’t just those scenes. Many monologues could have been summarized much better and like the action scenes are an example of the film’s excess and need for an editor.

“The Matrix Reloaded” did not need to be 2 hours long, especially as it ends with a cliffhanger so clearly is only part of a story. Having it be an hour and a half would have cut down on the excess and made this a good and potentially great film. Given all of that I still really enjoyed this film. The characters and world are compelling and I like how front and center sentient programs are in the narrative. If you like cyberpunk like me this film worth it though and the film has only aged better with time.

Final Score: 7.6 / 10

The Matrix (1999): An Amazing Classic That Still Holds up in Action, Character and Philosophy

With “Matrix: Resurrections” coming out this year I decided to return to the “Matrix Franchise.” I’ll be covering the original trilogy and “The Animatrix.” I haven’t seen “Reloaded” and “Revolutions” since they came out so I’m curious to see how my perspective might have changed as “The Matrix” still very much holds up and is a film I return back to every few years. This is a film that has amazing action, exploration of philosophy of themes and has only grown in importance over time especially in it’s power as a trans narrative given the Wachowskis’ story as trans women.

The film was written and directed by the Wachowskis.

The story follows Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), a programmer who lives a secret life as the hacker “Neo” who finds himself pulled into a larger world and the question he has always asked himself, “What is the Matrix?”

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Action – “The Matrix” is one of the best action films I’ve seen and it still holds up. You can see the inspiration taken from Wuxia and Martial Arts films. It blends classic practical effects with special effects to which grants the action more power. Also this film doesn’t have pointless action as each fight sequence advances the plot in some way as all great action films should.

The Cinematography – Bill Pope’s cinematography is beautiful in this. I love the element of green that is used when characters are in the Matrix, it contrasts with the grays and reds of the reality run by machines with only few free humans in this desolate world. It captures the world so well.

The World – The World of “The Matrix” is fascinating. You have the real world run by machines with humans just getting by in the last city of Zion as they try to fight against the machines and free more humans. This film leaves who was responsible for the human and machine war isn’t answered but the machines one and imprisoned humans in the Matrix to use as a power source after humans blotted out the sun. It is really well presented too. The Matrix is also full of living programs as well like the Oracle and Matrix giving it it’s own wonderful level of complexity beyond being a simple illusion.

The Machine Threat – The machines are a great threat with them having already won the war and using Agent programs to keep the Matrix police and controlled. The world of the Matrix and outside of the Matrix is entirely there world which keeps the stakes for the human freed and survivors high.

The Matrix – The Matrix as a complex programmed world where humans can fully interact with one another and programs but are fully trapped by the machines is fascinating. Agent Smith mentions past versions too showing that it’s adaptability to change and conflict is strong. It keeps the illusion alive no matter how people may try to change it.

The Oracle – Gloria Foster is wonderful as the Oracle. She is knows what is about to happen so has fun with it and uses it to guide people as she tells Neo he isn’t “The One” which leads to him discovering it on his own. She is also a teacher to a bunch of kids who already control aspects of the Matrix. She’s been humanity’s ally a long time.

The Nebuchadnezzar Crew – Morpheus’s crew are all interesting though Trinity and Morpheus are the most developed. You have Dozer and Tank you were born outside the Matrix. Tank is the kindest of the group. You have Apoc and Switch who are the muscle. Mouse who is the programmer and Cypher who works the tech. a lot and betrays them all because he wants the pleasure of the Matrix again. All of them are given little details in their characters and their costumes are distinct. Cypher for example has guilt for his betrayal as part of his deal is he wants to forget what he did. A more one-dimensional villain wouldn’t have cared.

Trinity – Carrie Anne-Moss is great as Trinity. She is Morpheus’s second-in-command and we see why as she has solo missions and is quick to figure out how to solve situations from saving Neo and Morpheus on multiple occasions. She even shoots an agent successfully which we hadn’t seen up to that point. I just wish we had learned more about her life in the Matrix before. We get hints that she was a hacker that Neo respects, but that is it.

Morpheus – Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus is iconic. He is a leader of the last of humanity and we see how dangerous the machines see in in the articles Neo is downloading as a hacker. He is driven too as he believes Neo is “The One” and risks his life to protect him. We see how strong his will is as he resists Agent Smith’s torture and in each fight he enters. Until Neo ascends Morpheus is the strongest human in mind and body we meet. I hope we get more of his backstory.

Agent Smith – Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith is one of the best cyberpunk villains. He’s a program who hates his job and wants out. While other Agents have no emotion and simply exist to follow orders Smith has thought about the Matrix and humans and hates it all so much. He wants freedom and he knows destroying humanity is the only way to do it. It gives him a complexity as he is a program with ego and desires that already seem to exceed his programming. He even defeats Neo before Neo ascends and explodes him.

Thomas Anderson / Neo – Keanu Reeves is perfect for the role of Neo. He is rebellious, his fear is tangible and his stoic nature matches the rest of the cast and vibe of the films. He also has a great hero’s journey as his acceptance of the lie of the Matrix and his own power happens gradually. Each scene advances his journey in some way to the point where he stops the Agents and reveals the Matrix to the populace when he flies, causing the server to crash.

Philosophical Themes – The major theme is that of Plato’s Cave and the illusion that those who see the puppet show buy into because it is all they know. Same with Kant and human’s flawed perception and the need to pursue truth in order to discover it. There are also Buddhist themes as well in the material illusion of the Matrix and Neo’s ascension as Enlightenment. Each of these deserves an essay but I just want to bring up the ideas in case you want to explore them deeper for yourself.

As Trans Allegory – Neo is constantly dead-named by Agent Smith, the reality of the matrix not feeling quite right (an identity forced upon those in the Matrix versus one’s real identity) and also the directors’ own story as trans women. Lilly Wachowski explicitly has called out the trans themes in interviews. This is important and there is power for liberation in the story of this film. I’ll be posting Curio’s video on the Matrix Series below too, and the perspective she brings.

The Cons:

The Love Story – Besides their love of Morpheus and being hackers he freed there is no reason for them to be lovers. Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves have good chemistry but there needed to be more development here. You can’t just say they love each other and have it be enough.

Neo’s Resurrection / Rules of the Matrix – Neo is brought back by the power of love. This power is never established and I wish he’d been near death and not actually died as him being dead and coming back from a kiss doesn’t work from anything else established.

Besides the love story aspect “The Matrix” is truly an amazing film that has only gotten better over time. This is a film that has a hero’s journey in Neo and also depth in the philosophical ideals and exploration of identity. The action is also some of the best out there still. I remember the films getting worse from here, which given how complete the story is I can see why but I’m still excited to return to them and watch on.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10 Still very much a favorite film.

Here is Curio’s amazing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0VnYcMHuDc&t=30s

Zone 414 (2021): Bad Cinematography and Direction Make a Film Unable to Rise Beyond Cliches

“Zone 414” is one of the worst films I have seen this year. This film has ugly cinematography and direction and the writing never gets beyond the cyberpunk cliches with any of the characters. It is really only the performances from the leads that keep me from rating it lower as they are clearly doing their best.

The film was directed by Andrew Baird and written by Bryan Edward Will.

The story follows P.I. David Carmichael (Guy Pearce) as he investigates the dissaperance of Marlon Veidt’s (Travis Fimmel) daughter into Zone 414, the city of robots.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Idea of Zone 414 – The idea of a city of robots that the rich buy into so it exists as a fantasy realm is compelling. Especially as we see the A.I. have feelings and sentience but it is never recognized or viewed as a threat if it is. We should have got the story from the A.I. perspective and a rebellion in Zone 414.

David and Jane – Guy Pearce as David and Matlida Lutz as Jane (the first A.I. in Zone 414) provide another interesting idea as Jane feels and wants to be human while David denies his own humanity until he faces it when Jane helps him face his past and guilt. This core arc and drama worked but everything with the Veidts did not.

The Cons:

The Cinematography – The cinematography is ugly. The film is dark and grey so it is hard to see scenes and it jumps between security footage that looks grainy and terrible. I get it was going for Zone 414 is a prison for the robots by doing this but there is no vision. It is just drab and ugly presentation. This is the worst looking film I have seen in a long time.

The Veidt Brothers – You have Marlon the CEO of Veidt who is a creep surrounded by robots and his brother and his brother Joseph who only has one character trait in that he hates his brother so does it by killing robots, Marlon’s daughter and harassing Jane. These one-dimensional baddies are so poorly written that they bring down the story given how core they are to the plot.

Sentience Unexplored – The idea of sentience is talked about but never explored. This film wants to be “Blade Runner” but never gets beyond lip service to the ideas. There are no layers to any of the characters and everything is told and surface.

This is a film I don’t recommend seeing. I am a cyberpunk fan but it is surprisingly difficult to tell good stories in that film genre for whatever reason. This story had potential and if the A.I. of Zone 414 had truly been explored and been front and center to the plot it could have been more than the poorly executed cliches of this film.

Final Score: 4 / 10

Alita: Battle Angel (2019) – True to the Anime in a Rich World

In my experience, it is bad to adapt anime into live-action films. You either end up with dumpster fires like “Dragonball Z,” or they are passable as with the first “Deathnote” movie. Live-action isn’t friendly to animation, and that runs true in the United States, too. I didn’t think “Beauty and Beast” was good, and I’ve not been a fan of Disney adapting more animation in the same way. Animation has a freedom of form that you don’t get in CGI, or human actors, and that is true here. So the question I ask is, “why did this work for me?” It works because they delved into the lore where the initial anime didn’t. I can see why this was in development hell for a long time, and this time it was worth it.

“Alita: Battle Angel” is a cyberpunk dystopian action film that was adapted from the manga by Yukito Kishiro.The film was directed by Robert Rodriguez (an action director I’m a fan of), and written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis. James Cameron was also a producer, and you can see his care with CGI in this.

Alita is a cyborg seeking to discover her. Her adopted father, Ido, brings her back to “life” upon finding her in the wastes below the last sky city of Zalem years after The Fall, a war that devastated Earth 300 years prior. From here she must face multiple threats as she protects the people she loves.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Soundtrack – Tom Holkenborg does a wonderful job honoring the original anime’s soundtrack. You can hear the “Blade Runner” inspiration, while it also manages to develop a voice and feel of its own. The music captures the sci. fi. epic past, as well as the present desperation of the characters.

The World – The anime touches on a rich world that the live-action film explores more extensively. There are hundreds of years of history. We learn about the war with the Sky Cities, and how Zalem became the last one. We learn about a cyborg military force from Mars, and how they nearly succeed before being defeated. We see the wastes where there is a gladiatorial competition of motorball where the winner of the tournament is rewarded by going to Zalem. I loved this world. It made me want to read the manga, and learn more. I hope this film gets sequels, so they can further explore it.

The Action – The action is amazing. This is a film where you feel every punch. For example, there is a villain who Alita easily beats while defending Ido. He returns later, and it takes all she has to beat him. She loses so much of her cyborg body but fights on. I was never bored during this film. I even thought motorball was handled well, given how they presented the action with so much color, movement and increasing stakes as players tried to kill her. The action is truly one of the most memorable parts of the film.

Ido – Christoph Waltz is wonderful as Ido. He is a scientist, and Hunter-Warrior, exiled from Zalem with his wife, whom his relationship with ended after their daughter was killed. We see him wanting that second chance in Alita as he gives her his daughter’s name. Their arc is him treating her as her own person, and respecting just how powerful she is. She is the protector and he is the “father.” He reactivated her and gave her the cyborg body he was going to give his real daughter. Through a set of Berserker Armor he Ido gives Alita, she discovers her past as a soldier for the United Republics of Mars (URM). Waltz is an award winning actor for a reason and this film is a great example of why.

Alita – Rosa Salazar does a fantastic job as Alita. She is a woman seeking out her past, and also discovering her own humanity as a sentient android. We see her fall in love with and save Hugo, only to later lose him. We see her relationship with her “father” Ido become one of partnership, and family, rather than her being treated like a child. We see her discover what it means to fight the greater fight, as losing Hugo reminds her of the larger fight against Zalem and the man behind the scenes Nova. Nova has been the one manipulating Vector, Ido’s ex-wife Dr. Chiren, and taking all the remains of humans he finds worthy below. You can see why Alita wants to end him, and when she discovers where her fight truly is, it is empowering and also sets up possible sequels.

Implications of the War – From what we can tell the URM lost the war and Earth stayed oppressed by Nova and Zalem. The world of “Alita: Battle Angel” is broken, and the desperation of people makes it so sociopaths like Nova can easily manipulate them into tools he can use to strengthen his city. The war ended but the fact that Alita survives implies that the old way may return, especially if she becomes a uniter of the people below Zalem.

Okay:

Minor Characters – Hugo, Vector, Dr. Chiren and a few others are fine. In the case of Vector, they end up often being possessed by Nova, so we never really learn who Vector is. Dr. Chiren has some good moments with Ido, and her choice to save Hugo is powerful. Ultimately her character underdeveloped. Hugo is okay, I liked him more in the anime because he was a bit more naive. In this film he is more grown up, which makes what he does as a mercenary all the more revolting. He does leave, and it costs him his life, but I felt he needed more development. I didn’t care about him nearly as much as I did Dr. Chiren.

The Promise of Nova – Nova is a powerful force and we know how oppressive Zalem is but we never learn who Nova is. I put him as okay because the mystery gives potential for a compelling backstory, and he could become much more of a threat than he is in this. Edward Norton is extremely talented and plays Nova. There was some missed opportunity in his role. He is a good enough constant threat in the film, and I like that he’s been around since the war with URM. Hopefully his story pays off in sequels.

For any fans of anime or post-apocalyptic cyberpunk sci. fi., this is a film worth checking out. I’ve been wanting to see a solidly good anime adapted to film for some time, and it looks like this time they managed to do it. The acting is solid, the action is great, the story is compelling and it is true to the anime while expanding on it and enriching the world. This film is a great example of adaptation done right.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10