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6 things you should know about "Alita: Battle Angel"

Writer: Casey Chong


Rosa Salazar headlines the cast as Alita in "Alita: Battle Angel".

Once upon a time, the long-awaited "Alita: Battle Angel" was locked for a late December 2018 release date. Prior to that though, it was originally scheduled to open in July 2018.

After the long unexpected delays, we're finally getting to watch the James Cameron-produced sci-fi blockbuster with our very own eyes this February!

While we wait for the impending release of the movie, here's all you need to know about "Alita: Battle Angel".

1) It took almost 20 years to make the movie

Co-writer and co-producer James Cameron and director Robert Rodriguez
on the set of "Alita: Battle Angel".

Believe it or not, James Cameron was initially set to direct "Alita: Battle Angel" after "Titanic" (1997) and the short-lived "Dark Angel" series (2000-2002). In fact, he fell in love with Yukito Kishiro's cyberpunk manga series so much that he immediately registered the domain name "battleangelalita.com". If that's not enough, Cameron had previously stated in 2003 via Moviehole that "Battle Angel is a very real possibility" where he "fully intends to direct", but then "Avatar" happened as well as other side projects such as "Ghost Of The Abyss" (2003) and "Aliens Of The Deep" (2005), which prevented him from moving ahead with the "Alita: Battle Angel" project, putting it on indefinite hold. Another reason Cameron kept delaying the project was due to the insufficient CG technology at the time. But all that eventually changed when "Desperado" and "Sin City" director Robert Rodriguez took over Cameron's long-gestating "Alita: Battle Angel" project in 2015 and the rest, as they say, is history.

2) It took a lot of hard work to perfect Alita's CG eyes

Alita's expressive "manga eyes" is a painstaking result from Weta Digital.

CG eyes have come a long way since the dreaded "dead eyes" look seen in effects-heavy features like "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" (2001) and "The Polar Express" (2004). According to Vulture, co-producer Jon Landau claimed that "Alita's eyes are a breakthrough". The special effects team, courtesy of Weta Digital, had worked extensively to capture the emotion, depth and geometry of the CG eyes a.k.a. "manga eyes" to be as realistic and meticulous as possible. Believe it or not, it took them several months to fine-tune Alita's eyes, focusing on every single layer ranging from the eyelashes to the corners and outer parts of the eyes.

3) Rosa Salazar beats three other actresses to secure the title role

(L-R) Rosa Salazar beats three other actresses including Bella Thorne, Maika Monroe
and Zendaya to play the title role for "Alita: Battle Angel".

"Alita: Battle Angel" would mark Rosa Salazar's biggest break in her acting career so far, after spending over the last few years appearing in supporting roles including "The Maze Runner" sequels and Netflix's "Bird Box". It is also worth noting that she actually had to beat three other actresses including Maika Monroe, Bella Thorne and Zendaya during the test screening.

4) Rosa Salazar's performance is entirely mo-cap

Rosa Salazar was required to wear a full motion-capture suit and performance-capture
rig forher titular mo-cap performance in "Alita: Battle Angel".

In order to fulfil the vision of the character, Rosa Salazar's titular performance is done through motion-capture (mo-cap) technology that requires her to put on a full motion-capture suit and performance-capture rig on her face. It is a similar method pioneered by Andy Serkis, best known for his impressive mo-cap performances as Gollum and Caesar in "The Lord Of The Rings" and "Planet Of The Apes" trilogy.

5) Alita's CG cyborg body is all individually put together

It took more than 7,000 individual pieces and layers to create Alita's cyborg body.

Over 7,000. That's the incredible number it took to meticulously create Alita's cyborg body using individual pieces and layers made by Weta Digital's team of VFX artists.

6) Rosa Salazar trained extensively in various martial arts techniques to prepare for the role

A scene from "Alita: Battle Angel".

Rosa Salazar's title character requires her to engage in numerous fight sequences. In order to prepare for her physically-demanding role, Salazar trained five days a week over the course of five months with Keith Hirabayashi, an American-born veteran martial artist and stuntman known for his works in the "China O'Brien" movies as well as the "Mortal Kombat" sequels. Apart from mastering kung fu, she also had to learn Muay Thai, kickboxing and even staff work.

Cinema Online, 05 February 2019


Related Movies:
Alita: Battle Angel (05 Feb 2019)

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