We sat down with Alita: Battle Angel star Rosa Salazar, director Robert Rodriguez and producer Jon Landau about releasing this epic sci-fi film almost twenty years in the making and asked them about the unique aspects being brought to this film.
Screen Rant: First and foremost I want to say congratulations. Let me just tell you on February 14th I will be the first in line to see this movie again. It is so good. It's visually stunning, the 3D is flawless. Everything was perfect. Now I know this has been in development for a long time and you finally get to see it. Is it everything you expected it to be?
Jon Landau: You know honestly, and Jim [Cameron] will tell you the same thing, it's more than we ever expected it to be. It's more on a visual spectacle. It's more on an emotional spectacle. And that is because of her (Rosa Salazar). She grounds this thing and she creates an accessible character that takes you on a journey against this incredible vast cinematic tableau.
Screen Rant: One thing I love about this is that Alita is relatable on so many different levels to everybody. I want to be Alita. I mean she's such a badass character and she's a cyborg but she is defined by her human interactions. So what's Alita's assets and what's her biggest challenges?
Rosa Salazar: Alita's biggest asset is the way that she sees the world. She sees the world especially at the beginning with such purity. And she's not afraid to be vulnerable which is the most human quality. When she asks Hugo on the kissing bridge, which I call it the kissing bridge, but she asks him does it bother you that I'm not completely human, that's the most heartbreaking scene in the movie for me. Cause it's less about his answer. It's more about her asking that is so human. So I think at once her humanity is her biggest asset and her biggest downfall. She's really wrestling with both sides of herself. She's giving into the humanity but her warrior past, it has no, even Zapan says it to her, kind of foreshadowing, he says to her there's no love, there is no crying in baseball. There is no emotion in a hunter warrior. In Iron City. There's no room for that here. And I think that's the biggest thing she wrestle with towards the end. I like what Jim says about her. When he went to meet [Yukito] Kishiro, original manga creator, he said "I see her as a Joan of Arc character" and Kishiro was like "No. No. Ronin. She's ronin." And that's what I like about her.
Screen Rant: Robert for you, I know you adapted James' original screenplay. And I heard there was 1000 pages of notes and you got like 600 pages of them. But I gotta ask because I heard you pretty much built Iron City in your backyard.
Robert Rodriguez: We built it there. My stuff tends to be really whimsical in my movies cause I started as a cartoonist. He started as an illustrator, more realistic. And all his movies are rendered more realistic. he told me that for him scifi and fantasy have to be really grounded and very real or you don't buy the fantasy. So i thought i don't want to shoot green screen, I don't want it to have this layer of artifice, oh that would be cool, you know to bring a manga to life and have it feel like a living manga but not feel real. So i wanted to have real sets, real locations, real actors around a real orange that she bites. So you really believe her. And he's right. That's why you buy the fantasy cause it's so grounded. For a movie that's 600 years in the future you feel like you can relate to it and you don't feel like it's foreign, cold and dystopian. You actually are seeing it more through her eyes. And he was totally right.
- Alita Battle Angel (2019) release date: Feb 14, 2019