Alita: Battle Angel was a long time in the making, but at least there wasn’t a super long wait to watch again at home. The Alita DVD and Blu-ray are now available — and of course, they come with enough special features to count as a whole second movie.
I was provided a free Alita: Battle Angel Blu-ray combo pack for review from Fox Home Entertainment. The opinions are my own.
If you read our review back in February, you already know that we liked Alita: Battle Angel. Sure, there were problems, but overall most of the movie was pretty interesting. It did the original source material justice. More importantly, the Alita DVD gives some context for some of those issues that puts them in a different light.
First, let’s take a look at the extra features. As always the Blu-ray has the most content:
- Alita’s World – This is a group of stop-action comics (kind of like a high-end visual novel) which give a deeper look into the lore of Alita. There are 4 of them:
- The Fall – The characters talk about the Earth-Mars war in the movie, but this gives a little more context. You also see baby Alita!
- Iron City – Hugo is my least favorite character, so it wasn’t a super treat listening to him narrate a tour of the city. It was okay, but the weakest of the comics. Also, apparently Iron City is suuuper segregated racially, which is odd when you consider the diversity in the street scenes.
- What it Means to be a Cyborg – Zapan narrates this story, which is by turns creepy and eye-rollingly melodramatic. It is very in-character.
- Rules of the Game – There are a few features that cover Motorball, the sport the creators describe as “NASCAR meets MMA” with a personal growth twist. I’m not sure how much I buy the personal growth angle in the movie- it’s mainly an excuse for high-stakes action- but it was a huge part of the manga.
- From Manga to Screen – There’s a lot of Yukito Kishiro, whose manga Gunnm inspired Alita, in here. He’s apparently a but of a Rodriguez fanboy, which made me smile. It must be nice to have someone whose work you admire so much adapt your work for the screen.
- Evolution of Alita – I thought this was going to be a straight special effects featurette, and I was hoping to see a lot of Eric Saindon (who we talked with before the release). It’s actually more of a look at how they shaped the character, how Rosa Salazar brought her to life, and how they shaped her personality (with some effects talk in there as well). Rosa is the most interesting part of this one.
- Motorball – “Rules of the Game” was a technical, animated look at Motorball. This one has cast and crew input. My favorite part is watching how they did motion capture for the cast when everything was animated.
- London Q&A: This is a straight panel discussion using fan questions, with James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez, Jon Landau, Rosa Salazar, Jennifer Connelly, and Christof Waltz
- Robert Rodriguez’s 10 Minute Cooking School: Chocolate – Look, I almost skipped this because I have a lot to do, but I loved chocolate and thought, “Eh, it’s ten minutes.” Excellent choice, Past Me. This is AWESOME. Definitely watch this featurette. I feel like I know better chocolatiers than he does that actually sell high-end chocolate melts for home confectioners (hello Chocolate House in DC, who I’ve been loyal to for three names now) but he’s not wrong that you can save money doing this yourself.
- 2005 Art Compilation (2019) – This is James Cameron’s original compilation of concept art for the then-titled “Battle Angel: Alita,” just with new voiceovers and music. It’s… greener? Really this was only interesting in a “oh look how it would have been 15 years ago” kind of way, I felt a little over-saturated by that point.
- Scene Deconstruction – The features promises to let us “view three different stages of the production – the original live action performance capture, the animation stage, and the final Weta VFX from four different scenes” and it does deliver. I wish it had gone a different direction, though? I expected to see a scene progress from one stage to the next, but instead it was a kind of overlay situation. Still fun! Don’t skip it… just, go into it without expectations.
If you’re watching the Alita DVD, you have fewer choices just due to the format. You get “Alita’s World” and the 4 featurettes plus “From Manga To Screen.” That’s the downside of DVD — and really, the superpacks of special features are mostly why we buy Blu-ray anyway, right? I’m just glad they’ve started bundling DVD, Blu-ray, and a downloadable copy all in one package instead of making people decide on a platform and be stuck with it.
Earlier I mentioned that some of the commentary on the Alita DVD made me rethink a few of my issues with the film. It came out near Captain Marvel and honestly, many movies would draw unfavorable comparisons as far as doing strong female characters right. I personally was annoyed that she’s so hung up on Hugo that she risks herself and her life goals for him multiple times.
In the Alita DVD commentary, James Cameron talks several times about his daughter, who was young when he wrote the first few drafts of the script. He talks about how Alita was a strong female character, she wasn’t scared of anything, and that was something he wanted to show his daughter. A lot of the guys talk about her that way. It made me soften a little bit on that angle — like, they were trying to give us the same kind of “superhero who can fix everything” that guys have tons of. Alita is ruled by her heart as a character trait. Maybe I’m not quite as annoyed by the enthusiastic “Romeo and Juliet” storyline.
Also, Alita is basically 17 so I’ve decided to cut her some slack.
Have you checked out the Alita DVD and Blu-ray yet? What’s your favorite special feature, or is there something you wish they’d included? Let us know in the comment sections below!
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology being published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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