New York Comic Con 2018: Robert Rodriguez on Alita: Battle Angel, by Andrew Benjamin
It’s been close to five years since Robert Rodriguez has made a movie. Rodriguez, who is famed for making low budget (comparatively to most Hollywood fare) and quickly shot affairs is returning to the big screen in February 2019 with what will be his biggest movie to date.
Alita: Battle Angel is based on the sci-fi Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro. The movie is described on IMDB as “an action-packed story of one young woman’s journey to discover the truth of who she is and her fight to change the world.” The movie stars Rosa Salazar as the cyborg Alita. Co-stars include Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley, and Mahershala Ali.
The $150 million budget movie has been stuck in development hell as far back as 2000. Originally James Cameron was slated to direct the film, but the Avatar director got caught up with other projects. Rodriguez had initially been brought in to help condense Cameron’s script and edit the screenplay into a shooting script. After Cameron saw the script that Rodriguez wrote, he offered him the director’s chair. Cameron is staying on as producer.
“I wanted to make it feel like a movie he would make,” Rodriguez told reporters at New York Comic Con. “You have to get into his mindset and that was really cool.”
Rodriguez said when it came down to editing the initial script, he cut out conflicts that distracted from the story and characters.
The movie boasts both practical and computer-generated effects. The character Alita is a product of both. One example being the character’s eyes have been enhanced by CGI, something that caused both positive and negative discussion among fans on the internet.
Rodriguez said, regarding her look, that the intention was to create a person that viewers could immediately identify as a human.
“We wanted her to look human. Humans know humans.”
For Salazar, playing Alita with the use of a green screen was not a difficult task.
“I acted on a greenscreen one day and the rest of the shoot was completely practical… They created a volume for me to exist in… You’re just in this world,” she said.
She was also aware of the task of taking on the role of a popular manga character. She did say she wanted to make sure she tackled the role with respect to the original character.
“They’re genuine fans of the material. I know how fans are very protective of the intellectual property because you spend time with this girl and these characters.”
Alita: Battle Angel comes to theaters February 14, 2019.