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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Prior to release, the film was being considered one of those unnecessarily expensive and disappointing pet projects, with the bad reputation of Hollywood adaptations of anime/manga and the Uncanny Valley complaints about the title character's Big Anime Eyes not helping matters. Critics were lukewarm, but audience reception proved to be very positive. Several box office pundits projected the film to end up a massive Box Office Bomb that would have opened in the vicinity of $20 million and grossed $200 million worldwide "at best". It opened with twice that domestically. And while the worldwide totals (around $400 million, twice the projected gross) don't look that impressive at first glance and the film's profitability will leave a big question mark due to its cost and final domestic tally (north of $85 million), they don't paint a total disaster either, meaning the movie very much defied expectations, doing the best it could with word of mouth, a modest but very devoted fandom it instantly gained and lackluster marketing. Moving the release date from December 2018 to February 2019 proved to be a wise move that prevented it from sharing the sad fate of fellow new-to-the-big-screen big budget science fiction film Mortal Engines against which Alita was initially set to release and which took the big releases of December 2018 (Aquaman, Bumblebee and Mary Poppins Returns) in the face.
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  • Anti-Climax Boss: Alita and Grewishka's third showdown is a Curb-Stomp Battle, as Alita easily takes out Grewishka with the Damascus Blade.
  • Awesome Music:
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  • Cliché Storm: A common criticism was that many tropes in the film have grown so omnipresent in sci-fi cinema over the past couple of decades that they no longer feel fresh. Ironically, the film's source material likely inspired and contributed to the proliferation of those tropes in the first place (with perhaps the exception of Rollerball). The script, although since revised, was first written by James Cameron 20 years before its release.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Nova, the ruler of Zalem, reigns over the world like a god from above. Keeping the people of Iron City oppressed and hopeless while running Zalem as a totalitarian dictatorship, Nova regularly performs experiments that create monsters like Grewishka and result in massive amounts of death. Happily overriding the minds of his followers when convenient, Nova also has his pawn Vector harvest countless people for their organs, a state that is implied to keep them alive and conscious as he takes them for his experiments. When Alita's beloved Hugo attempts to climb to Zalem, Nova simply sends a spiked ring down to kill him for the sheer amusement of it. With a scientific mind unfettered by morality or ethics, Nova shows why he is Alita's worst enemy.
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    • Vector, Nova's liaison between Zalem and Iron City, is one of the most powerful men in Iron City and also its most corrupt. With swathes of murder tracing back to his head through his cyborg thugs, Vector also manages the Motorball games, a sport where cyborgs viciously maim and kill each other in intense races. Vector has other innocent cyborgs dismembered and their enhancements stolen to let his Motorball players augment themselves to become even more dangerous and vicious — horribly killing one victim of this with a blowtorch to keep his identity covert — and attempts to have Alita killed in one of these rigged games on Nova's behalf. Vector is ultimately revealed to be the one in charge of sending those Nova favors to Zalem, extracting their brains and organs and sending them up, alive and conscious, for Nova's experiments, a fate suffered by Dr. Ito's ex-wife Dr. Chiren when she tries to back out of Vector's operation.
  • Critical Dissonance: Critics think the film is somewhere between mediocre and okay, but most viewers, and especially fans of the source material, love it (on Rotten Tomatoes, the critic approval is 60%, while for audiences it's 94%). It's been lauded by the anime community as the first live-action Hollywood adaptation of manga series to not suck.
  • Cult Classic: While the film is a modest success, beating the low expectations of box office pundits who predicted it to be a gigantic flop, it didn't manage to become a runaway hit. Still, it got a very warm reception from the majority of the fans of both the Cyberpunk genre and the source material, quickly getting the Fan Nickname of "the first Hollywood film adaptation of manga series that did not suck", and gaining the dedicated fanbase characteristic of this trope basically right after its release.
  • Director Displacement: Producer and co-writer James Cameron has vigorously stepped up to promote the film since it has been a pet project of his for long — he was unable to direct it due to his commitment on the Avatar sequels. His name showed up quite a bit more in the marketing than the director's, Robert Rodriguez.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: A lot of people have said that McTeague (the movie's version of Murdock) unexpectedly steals the show despite his limited screen time, thanks to being an aging but badass dog-loving bounty hunter who sides with the heroes against Grewishka after he kills Alita's puppy like a futuristic John Wick. Even more so when a short advertisement on Twitter confirmed that he rescued and repaired the dog off-screen.
  • Evil Is Cool: Vector. He dresses like Blade and has a calm disposition to everything, even to being threatened by Nova and Alita.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With Captain Marvel, another science fiction female-lead film released a month apart. While some simply see Alita as the more visually-interesting and original movie, there's a strange case of this phenomenon in that a lot of the rivalry is more a political ploy where those who attacked Captain Marvel (for, among other things, political statements by Brie Larson) using Alita to parry the accusation they are against female protagonists. Conversely, a number of Captain Marvel fans who are mindful of the latter group have actually told others to support Alita to encourage more female-led films.
    • With City Hunter: The Cupid's Perfume in France, strangely, for it has the same kind of Critical Dissonance and approval by the manga's creator.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Among the foreign markets the film did best in Russia (which is second in the world's box office, behind only South Korea, where it was released a full week earlier) and France (where the original manga is much better known than in the US) taking the third place. And of course there is the film's biggest market, China.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: This film's version of Vector looks just like Blade. He even has the all-black ensemble of sunglasses, trenchcoat, and high-top fade. Then it was revealed in SDCC 2019 that Mahershala Ali was cast as Blade for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Ho Yay: Right before Alita offers to give her heart to him so he can pay to get to Zalem, Hugo wakes up shirtless and says he spent the night drinking with Vector.
  • LGBT Fanbase: The film has a significant trans women audience as Alita is exploring a new body and feeling euphoria with it, against the gatekeeping of her identity.
  • Memetic Mutation: Alita's "anime eyes". Explanation 
    • Several Twitter users put giant googly-eyes over their actual eyes while talking about their "Alita: Battle Angel cosplay".
    • There have been plenty of jokes comparing Alita to owls or tarsiers, while some other jokes point out the anatomical issues of having eyeballs that are so big.
    • Relating to all of the above, some have joked that the film was delayed because of the eyes not being big enough in the first trailer.
  • Narm:
    • Alita literally offering to give her heart to Hugo. Even if it was an iconic moment from the source material, it's an unbearably obvious metaphor that doesn't translate well to film, especially considering the rushed nature of the love story in the film version. This goes double for seeing the scene in the trailer, where it doesn't have the context surrounding it and feels especially over-the-top.
    • Alita's impassioned speech (complete with uplifting music) seeking the Hunter-Warriors' aid against Grewishka comes across as far too earnest to be taken seriously, especially when she mentions uniting against "a common foe" and calls the other hunters "brothers and sisters" when she has only been a HW herself for less than an hour. Zapan scoffing at the end of it comes off less as, "He's a mean jerk" (though he is) and more like, "Yeah, that was rather silly, wasn't it?"
  • Narm Charm: When Grewishka spitefully harpoons the adorable little dog that Alita befriended earlier in the film, Alita crouches down and uses the little dog's blood as her warpaint. And thanks to Alita's sheer Tranquil Fury and the anticipation of an ass-kicking for Grewishka, it works.
    • Christoph Waltz scurrying around with a gigantic rocket hammer taller than him looks fairly absurd, but it's likely intentionally goofy.
  • One-Scene Wonder: McTeague, an hunter-warrior at the Kansas Bar. A Cool Old Guy and dog lover (he's got four cyborg dogs), he also proves to be a genuinely nice man compared to his peers, as he's the only one among them to follow Ido and Hugo down in the sewers to save Alita from Grewishka. He's also played by Rodriguez regular Jeff Fahey.
  • So Okay, It's Average: The general critical reception appears to be this. Critics liked the film's action sequences and visual flair and the heart given by Rosa Salazar's performance, but felt the story was overpacked and ended on an unnecessary Sequel Hook. The audience, on the other hand...
  • Tainted by the Preview: Reception for the first trailer was mixed, with praise for the atmosphere while Alita's bulbous eyes left the internet polarized.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Vector. He's got little to no agency of his own compared to the other versions of the character, being frequently controlled by Nova to speak through him, and like in the OVA he suffers Death by Adaptation.
  • Uncanny Valley: Rosa Salazar plays Alita via Motion Capture, which has a tendency to fall into the valley no matter what. However, the real uncanniness comes from the fact that Alita's and her former squad's eyes are enlarged, making her look like an actual anime character come to life. The effect is exacerbated by the fact that other cyborgs are more overtly modified (with completely mechanical, shining bodies), but have human faces that make them easier to look at. It's summed up best by this review from TheVerge.
    "The character looks like an anime doll come to life, or like a Disney character that's just a hair off from normal. It's probably a deliberate choice, meant to remind viewers at every moment that Alita isn't human. But after so many years of CGI animators trying to mimic convincing human faces and not entirely succeeding, it’s still unsettling to see a character hovering this close to realistic, while staying this far away from it."
    • Alita's irises were made bigger following the complaints about the first trailer over a year before release. That change has not been reported that much, but many people reportedly didn't have a problem with the character's design in the final product, so the latter move was a good call.
  • Villain Decay: Vector. In the Manga, and even parts of the Anime OVA, Vector is portrayed as a Magnificent Bastard who is the unquestioned ruler of Iron City. In the film, he appears this way at first, only to later reveal he is a mindless puppet of Nova who has no control of his own and does Nova's bidding mostly by force. In the original Manga, Vector willingly does business with Zalem for profit, is not controlled by Nova or even knows about him. And turns against Zalem and helps Alita/Gally during the climax of the Manga for his own selfish reasons, ultimately becoming a Karma Houdini.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: While many early reviews have criticized the film's script, the one thing that has been consistently praised is the film's visuals, which look stunning, especially in 3D.
  • Win the Crowd: While many were offput by the trailers, the critical reactions on social media were positive, making many more optimistic.

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