James Cameron has been trying to bring cult sci-fi manga Battle Angel Alita to the big screen for the best part of two decades. When he found himself tied up in the world of Pandora for Avatar (opens in new tab) and its long-awaited sequels, he passed the directing directing duties to Robert Rodriguez.
Rodriguez (Sin City (opens in new tab)) is calling the shots on the ambitious film adaptation, Alita: Battle Angel, with Cameron still heavily involved as co-writer and producer. Rosa Salazar stars as the titular anime-eyed cyborg, who has no memories of her past life or the significant skills she possesses.
You can take an exclusive look at Alita in the following pair of exclusive images, courtesy of our sister publication Total Film magazine (opens in new tab). In the first, Alita is going out all guns blazing in an action sequence, while the second sees her examining a suit of body armour that might have a link to her mysterious past. Check out the images below:
As Rodriguez explains, Alita is a very different proposition to the heroes that typified Cameron’s early work. “Sarah Connor [from the Terminator movies] starts as a waitress and yet she’s going to be saving the world,” says Rodriguez to Total Film (opens in new tab). “How does she become that person? You see Ripley [from Aliens (opens in new tab)] being someone who is just a science officer go and save everyone, even the marines. This character was different. She’s already a badass – she just doesn’t remember that. She wakes up thinking she’s insignificant.”
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The character is brought to life via a motion-capture performance from Salazar, who says she was “surprised at how much of me is in there” when she saw the results. “The thing I really had to get used to and incorporate into my performance was the helmet,” she says. “The helmet has a boom on the side of it and two [lightweight HD] cameras pointed at your face, less than a foot away.”
Creating this central character is a huge undertaking, and she’s the centre of a fully-realised sci-fi world, which imagines futuristic cities floating above a decimated Earth. “The level of detail and realism just blows you away,” Rodriguez tells Total Film (opens in new tab). “This is photo-real. It feels like you’re in a dream; you’re watching a dream image come to life… I can see now why these kinds of movies are so intoxicating to Jim because to create images you can only dream of is really the magic of cinema.”
Alita: Battle Angel opens in the UK on February 6 and in the US on February 14, and you can read much more about it in an in-depth set report featured in the new issue of Total Film magazine (opens in new tab), which hits shelves this Friday, January 11.
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