With the growing ubiquity of motion capture as a major visual effects tool in the film industry, it seems the line between CGI and practical action is getting thinner with the advancements in tech every year. Horror, sci-fi, and superhero films especially are making extensive use of the most cutting-edge visual FX to realize stories that would’ve been considered unfilmable before the turn of the century. Next year’s “Alita: Battle Angel” aims to be the latest sci-fi adventure to take mocap to the next level – something you could easily assume given the involvement of producer and co-writer James Cameron a la “Avatar”, “Terminator 2” etc. As evidenced by the trailers, it’s also set to mark the first priority theater excursion for martial arts fans in the New Year. Indeed, with the film’s latest trailer and its newly released action clip, both of which you can see below, the superhuman martial arts action featured makes the film’s move to Valentine’s Day from its original holiday-season release seem very much worth the wait!
Under the direction of Robert Rodriguez, “Alita: Battle Angel” is an adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s acclaimed manga series (known as “Gunnm” in Japan). The film follows the story of its titular heroine Alita, (played via mocap by Rosa Salazar) who awakens in a post-apocalyptic future to find her consciousness placed into a cybernetic body by Dr. Ido, played by Christoph Waltz. As Alita tries to make sense of her new world, she and Dr. Ido battle the machines that have brought about the fall of mankind as our heroine tries to navigate the fractured memories of her former life.
Like Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One”, “Alita: Battle Angel” makes extensive use of CGI and mocap to vivify the full scope of its source material. At the same time, the film’s manga and anime influences are on full display, with the considerable martial arts action feeling akin to “The Matrix” in its marriage of wire-fu and mocap. With more grounded and gritty action being all the rage these days, sci-fi films like “Alita: Battle Angel” may prove quite the exciting vehicle to push superhuman martial arts action to the next level. Indeed, the kind of tech displayed in the film is enabling a greater sense of realism by the day, and surely the idea of plugging one’s brain into a body with Alita’s kind of, out-of-this-world fighting skill, is an innate fantasy of every martial arts fan on the planet. Cameron’s “Terminator” films may warn us of the dangers of technology left unchecked, but with “Alita: Battle Angel”, he and Rodriguez sure seem keen to show us the fun side of it!
“Alita: Battle Angel” is set to hit UK cinemas on February 6th and the US on February 14th. What’s your impression of the film’s mocap-driven martial arts action so far; what are some of your favourite action films or scenes featuring superhuman or even CGI martial arts? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram. (Stay tuned for a more exciting FU-driven FUture, news, specials and subscribe for videos too!)