Feb 7

Justin’s Japan: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Hollywood adaptations of famous anime and manga series have a history of troubled birth and indifferent reception. “Speed Racer,” “Dragonball: Evolution,” and “Ghost in the Shell” didn’t click with fans of the source material, nor did they gain new ones through the interpretations of directors who might not have grasped their appeal in the first place. “Alita: Battle Angel” looks to change that trend.

Produced and co-written by James Cameron and directed by Robert Rodriguez (the “Sin City” and “Spy Kids” films), “Alita” brings original creator Yukito Kishiro’s epic to the big screen. Rosa Salazar (“Maze Runner,” “Bird Box”) plays the titular heroine, a cyborg with saucer-like eyes and a combat-scarred past who is revived in the post-apocalyptic future world of Iron City. Using her newfound skills as a bounty hunter, Alita fights to rediscover her humanity and find a place in her new surroundings.

With a cast that includes Academy Award winners Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelly, along with a reported $200 million production budget with Dolby Cinema and IMAX 3D screenings, “Alita” has received advance praise: “The A.V. Club” calls it Rodriguez’s “best movie in ages,” and “The Verge” calls it “a worldbuilding triumph.”

First published in 1990 under the title “Gunnm” and recently reissued here as deluxe hardcover editions by “Attack on Titan” publisher Kodansha Comics, the film adaptation was first considered by devotee Cameron as his feature follow-up to “Titanic.” Rodriguez came aboard in 2015 as the steward to his vision, which includes 1,500 CGI shots in native 3D, climaxing with Iron City’s motorball competition, which blends turbo racing with gladiatorial combat.

“Alita: Battle Angel” premieres in North America February 14. For more information, visit www.foxmovies.com/movies/alita-battle-angel.

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