Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.
Plot: A deactivated female cyborg (Alita) is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Runtime: 122 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Alita: Battle Angel‘s story struggles to keep up with its special effects, but fans of futuristic sci-fi action may still find themselves more than sufficiently entertained.
“A great story, amazing world and overall extravaganza.”
This movie was shot with Arri Alexa Mini cameras along with the PACE/CAMERON Fusion Camera System. Ultimately, it was finished at a 2K Digital Intermediate, so you will get a an upscaled 4K image for this release. It was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in both Dolby Vision and HDR10+… on the same disc.
When it comes to the grain levels, there’s practically none, so you will get a very nice and clean image throughout. Something to note is that even though this film was shot digitally, I felt like there was a bit of a filmatic aspect to it, but maybe that was just me and how much I love this movie. There are some soft shots in different areas of the film, but nothing that takes you out of the overall presentation.
The biggest standout on this disc is going to be the use of HDR because it’s working on all fronts — especially when you compare it to the Blu-ray disc. It adds deeper tones, depth, dimension, contrast — the works. Everything looks real, whether you’re walking through the empty, dark, low-lit streets of Iron City at night or during the day when the city comes alive under the sun. Everything is very immersive, and with a fictional world in play, that’s very important.
That means you can be positive that all the sweeping shots of Iron City are on point; downtown, the scrapyard, outskirts, the Motorball arena, etc. Every atmosphere in this world takes on it’s own identity and nothing looks out of place. Mix in that awesome HDR and masterful CGI, you have a winning formula. Did I say CGI? Amazingly you can’t notice the CGI at all, nothing stands out in a negative way.
BUT! Something that this disc doesn’t do at a high level is in razor sharp detail department — which means this is where I put my tin-foil hat on. Don’t get me wrong, this UHD disc has great detail, but it’s not reference grade. Why? This is a BD66 disc, not BD100 disc meaning that space is mostly being held up by Dolby Vision & HDR10+ working that high dynamic range on the same disc. With a lower bit-rate being shown, you wonder if this was a creative choice? Usually razor sharp detailed discs that have a lot of CGI tend to show through because of that amazing resolution. This movie still hits the necessary marks on all fronts, but it’s not perfect.
I don’t make films and I don’t understand how converting and shaping movies for home distribution work, but wouldn’t a BD100 disc with a high bitrate churn out detail galore, let the already great HDR breathe with more space and ultimately, make for a reference quality disc when the two mix? It’s a great disc, I just wanted perfection.
Moving forward, (and removing the tin-foil hat) there were still UHD-level details noticed on this disc, just not in a repetitive manner. You will still notice intricate nuances like small hairs on Alita’s face, textures in clothing, imperfections in the various pieces of machine and armor — not to mention insignificant details like dust collecting on a mirror and dirt on mechanical objects — it’s all there.
Now on to some of the highlights I jotted down.
One of the first all around highlights was in Chapter 16 when they find the URM ship in the lake. Great highlights shine through with the green moss growing off the ship, the color in the surrounding trees and reflections of the water. This continues when Alita is in the ship underwater —black levels and contrast look great with the added touches of glowing (red, blue and purple) neon lights. Furthermore, the detail and depth looks great in the textures of the wet clothes, hair and water dripping off her face. Another short sequence was in Chapter 21 when you get a flashback of Alita learning how to fight in a training facility — a very clean eye-candy styled look. Again in Chapter 23 you will get close-up shots of Hugo testing Alita’s sensors, the “you are the most human person I have ever met” scene. The camera holds real still giving up tons of depth, detail and contrast in their faces and Alita’s new body armor. Furthermore, in Chapter 35 you will get closer to Alita in the mirror as she cuts through her tear and entering the Motorball arena. Everything is super sharp and detailed across the board, it’s probably the most reference shots on the disc.
I wrote a review when I saw this movie in theater and (while the experience was better in the theater) this is still one of my favorite movies of the year. I’ve seen it three times now and that number will continue to grow now that I’ve got a copy I can watch it over and over again. Not only is this a super-easy recommendation, it’s a must own disc. Going into this release I was hoping that it was going to be a top-notch reference grade disc, something that you had to own even if you weren’t a fan of the movie. This is still an awesome 4K UHD presentation, but it’s not reference grade quality — I just wanted it to be perfect on all fronts. I usually don’t rate these reviews, but this disc is definitely a 8.5-9 out of 10. The only thing it needs is a bump in detail and it would be a perfect disc. (It would also have been nice to have a changing ratio for the IMAX shots, but that’s just being picky.)
No matter what the case may be, the #AlitaArmy is going strong and with the continued word of mouth — hopefully we get another movie in the future. Make sure you go pick up a copy of Alita: Battle Angel when this releases this Tuesday, July 23rd! If you buy it, watch it and pass it on. If you’re in the middle or somewhat interested, go rent it and watch it with family or friends — from there the fanbase will only grow.
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