Battle Angel 'triumphed in the strange valley


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You may know the concept of the strange valley, but a brief reminder: the more realistic a human simulation becomes, like an Android or CG character, the more we notice the small differences. Finally, we become repulsed. Sometimes we can not even explain what's bothering us; we just know that something is wrong, and it makes us uncomfortable. An example often cited is that of the dead eyes of the various characters of Tom Hanks in Polar Express.

For the most part, filmmakers are aware of this problem and try to avoid it, making their characters more virtuosic or non-human: think of Caesar from the latest Planet of the Apes films or the distribution of almost every film. of Pixar. And Alita may initially appear to be another nonhuman character, since she is a fully engineered cyborg: the only part of her that is entirely biological, since the beginning of the film, is her brain. But the film constantly reminds us that under these mechanical parts, she is still an emotionally fragile human girl.

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Its cyborg nature is very central in the plot. Alita, broken and amnesiac, is found abandoned in a bust by a kind cybernetic doctor who replaces her lost mechanical body and adopts her as a girl. She represents the child that he lost years ago and so is naturally inclined to protect her. But it's difficult in a post-apocalyptic city where citizens are often forced to replace their biology with mechanical elements to survive. And even then, they risk being ripped off by bandits. Alita is instinctively drawn to the violence of this world, for reasons that she does not understand consciously at the beginning. It's a story we've certainly seen before, but the pleasure of looking at it this time lies in the complexity of this lived world. (And of course, the fights are pretty cool.)

L & # 39; original Battle Angel Alita The cartoon, created by Yukito Kishiro in the early 90s, would never translate well into real action. It takes place in a dilapidated slum called Iron City, populated by cyborgs that are not always recognizable human beings. Some simply replace lost limbs, others may be stung for manual labor and some may even turn into tanks for the purpose of winning the city's favorite sport of death, the motorball. There is a giant city above Zalem, maintained by a space elevator. All this is visually fantastic and could only previously be described with accuracy by animation: an original video animation, released in 1993, adapted the first two volumes of the series, but it never been continued.

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The live-action version is in preparation for nearly two decades – original director James Cameron has consistently pushed him back, as he was busy with other projects. Finally, it was transmitted to Robert Rodriguez, whose distinct style corresponds to the hyperviolent scenes of the original story. The long delay in making the film helped a lot: the Weta team applied everything that she had learned from films like The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, The Planet of the Apes and of course, Avatar. However, after the Cameron blockbuster caused a sensation, the effects seemed to stagnate: studios reduced their costs and under-invested in the special effects houses, which resulted in lower quality work. But you will not find bad work here. In fact, there is progress both big and small.

The film encourages you to invest in Alita as a real and living human being by giving it a level of detail never seen before in a CG character. His eyes can be enlarged and his mouth reduced to match the iconic look of the manga, but it's something you quickly forget after the first minute. Everything was a movement captured by Rose Salazar's performance, where Weta was able to capture the smallest facial expressions: Salazar has a small, distinct nose fold that her computerized doppelganger also emulates. It's partly in this way that this film manages to avoid the strange valley: it has the small quirks that we expect to see when we interact with another person. We want to see the little things that make someone different from everyone else.

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