Cyborgs and Humans Clash in the New “Alita: Battle Angel” Trailer

In Brief

After years of waiting, the first official trailer for the manga-turned-big-budget Hollywood movie “Alita: Battle Angel” has been released. Due to hit the big screen in July, it could be a significant step for cyberpunk on the big screen.

Manga Takes the Big Screen

Famed movie director James Cameron has toiled to produce “Alita: Battle Angel” for the big screen for years, but now everyone can finally enjoy the first trailer for the cyberpunk film. “Alita” is the latest in a slew of proofs of manga’s prowess on the big screen.

Featured below, the film feels like manga with the breath of life of some alternate universe, where uncannily giant eyes are featured in keeping with the source material.

The film is directed by Robert Rodriguez, and stars Rosa Salazar as Alita, a cyborg discovered in a junkyard by a scientist played by the master of amoral characters, Christoph Waltz. Of course, Alita isn’t an amalgam of spare parts to Waltz’ mad scientist; she is actually a trained assassin of the highest order, and she will have to fight an entire cyberpunk underworld to discover her true origins and purpose.

A New Take on Cyberpunk

This may not seem, at first glance, a novel story. Yet no one can say that cyberpunk, as an aesthetic, has been exhausted by the big screen; quite the opposite, in fact. We’ve seen female leads as cyborgs before, but never really got to see their individuation on a long-term, extended narrative on the big screen.

However, from the trailer alone, this doesn’t look like a stylized think-piece on a new aesthetic, asking if it’s wrong to kill in a world that doesn’t respect your right to live, as in the original “Blade Runner.” Nor does it seem a more science-based worst-case-scenario of the potential dangers of giving artificial intelligence capabilities far exceeding our own, as in “Ex Machina.”

We only have 90 seconds to go on, but it seems a healthy mix of humans and cyborgs played by smorgasbord of proven actors like Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley, Mahershala Ali, and Michelle Rodriguez could turn a special-effects-based action-flick into a character-driven hit.

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