While comic book movies are grabbing all of the headlines and attention nowadays, there are other sub-genres lurking under the surface, waiting for their time in the mainstream. This year the video game genre has made a huge effort to make a mark at the box office to mixed results, whether it was Warcraft, The Angry Birds Movie, or the upcoming Assassin’s Creed. However, there is another sub-genre coming to theaters in the new future, so prepare for the new wave of anime-influenced movies.
For at least the past 20 years, the influence of anime movies could be found in most modern action movies. Whether it’s The Matrix, Dark City, or Pacific Rim, many of the ideas, framing, and action sequences audiences have come to enjoy were actually inspired from anime’s style. Currently, a big budget adaptation of Ghost in the Shell is in production for Paramount Pictures with Scarlett Johansson in the lead role. While an equally high-profile project is shaping up based on the anime, Battle Angel Alita, with James Cameron producing and Robert Rodriguez directing over at Fox.
According to THR, Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen) has joined the cast of Alita: Battle Angel in an unnamed role. He joins a cast led by Rosa Salazar (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) as Alita and Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ito, the benevolent scientist who rehabilitates Alita. The film will be directed by Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids) and was written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island), which had long been in Cameron’s queue as his next directing project. However, his fascination with the world of Avatar has absorbed his time, as he prepares to film the next four sequels to that franchise, so he will serve as a producer instead.
The anime, Battle Angel Alita, was actually based on a Manga of the same name. It centered on a cyborg, Alita, who is found badly damaged in a junkyard over 500 years in the future. A brilliant cybernetics specialist finds Alita, who is suffering from severe amnesia, only remembering her martial arts programming. Alita goes on to utilize her skills by becoming a bounty hunter and that’s when the adventure and self-discovery really begins.
It’s not hard to imagine why Haley was cast in the upcoming science fiction event film. THR reports that Haley is expected to play a “monstrous” cybernetic villain, who will need an extensive amount of visual effects to be brought to life. The former child actor had a meteoric return to the spotlight after a haunting Academy Award nominated performance in Little Children. Since that time, he has proven his geek cred by playing a variety of anti-heroes and despicable villains, in movies and shows like Watchmen, The Tick, Preacher, and in this year’s The Birth of a Nation. So it is easy to imagine why he was cast in the film.
The movie certainly has a lot of promise and the involvement of Haley (in almost any project) usually is not a bad thing. Alita: Battle Angel has the opportunity to be a huge building block in the future of anime adaptations. However, it’s hard not to wonder what the movie would be like with Cameron at the helm. This has long been his passion project and he didn’t make the movie years ago, simply because he was waiting for filmmaking technology to catch up with his vision. With that in mind, Alita: Battle Angel is seemingly off to a strong start with a dynamic cast and hopefully Rodriguez can help take the entire sub-genre into the future.
Alita: Battle Angel is set for release on July 20th, 2018.