Critics seem divided over Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron’s new manga adaptation Alita: Battle Angel, with some saying it “lives up to its potential” and others calling it “protracted [and] soul-challenged.”
However, most of the moviegoing public is too distracted by one glaring element of the movie to decide whether it looks good or not: the lead character’s eyes. The live-action actress Rosa Salazar’s face has been altered to have giant real-life anime eyes in every scene. As with anything divisive in pop culture, there have been tweets and memes abound on social media. So, here are The Internet’s Best Reactions To Alita’s Eyes.
9 SEE IMAGE
This Twitter user posted a GIF of Alita’s eyes from the anime in closeup in response to all the people saying the character’s eyes are “too big” in the new movie. This GIF shows that they are actually pretty accurate to the character, even if they don’t translate too well into live-action.
The filmmakers should be praised for at least taking a risk and doing something that’s never been done before, but maybe there’s a reason it’s never been done before. Maybe those big, inflated anime eyes should stay in animated form and in the pages of manga, because they don’t look so cool on a real person’s face.
8 SHE ALREADY FITS ALITA'S INNOCENT LOOK
She already fits Alita's innocent look already just by looking herself, they didn't need to change her eyes up at all pic.twitter.com/LdKtpAeoxz— Marioachi 🇲🇽 (@mujabes) December 8, 2017
Rosa Salazar was actually a familiar face before Alita: Battle Angel gave her what could potentially be her big break (or the death of her career). She was the girl who stole the car and ran off with Machine Gun Kelly in Netflix’s Bird Box.
She has also appeared in the Maze Runner and Divergent franchises and had a role in American Horror Story. One Twitter user suggests that the actress’ eyes look innocent enough as they are without being turned into a giant puppy dog eyes with CGI effects. Based on this side-by-side, they could be onto something there.
7 A PEEK BEHIND THE SCENES
behind the scenes snapshot of alita: battle angel pic.twitter.com/l9uaB5SWeO— SungWon Cho (ProZD) (@prozdkp) December 8, 2017
This supposed “behind the scenes snapshot of Alita: Battle Angel” sees voice actor and YouTuber SungWon Cho offering us a satirical look at the making of the movie. Obviously, he’s wearing giant paper eyes over his own eyes for comic effect, with the comparative size of his glasses only adding to the visual joke.
But this probably isn’t far off what Rosa Salazar had to wear on her eyes during the shooting of every scene for the visual effects artists to have the right reference points to enlarge her eyes – an effort that likely cost millions of dollars and countless hours of hard work for what many people believe was a waste of time.
6 IT IS A BOLD CHOICE
I really love the eyes of Alita in the upcoming movie. The character is a cyborg and in the comics everybody can tell. By messing with Rosa Salazar’s eyes in this way I feel the filmmakers have created a sense of otherness that the audience can’t escape. It is a bold choice. pic.twitter.com/5VAgKzBtUo— Ian Slutz (@panzerHut) December 12, 2017
This Twitter user is willing to give the movie a chance with the eyes. He sees it as a “bold” cinematic translation of the manga itself. In the comics, which a lot of people commenting on the eyes have ignored, everyone can tell that Alita is a cyborg, because she doesn’t look like anyone else.
The anime eyes differentiate her from everybody else and make her stand out. If, like some people have complained, they make her look unnerving and creepy and not like a real person, then the filmmakers did a good job, because that’s the point of the story.
5 I'M JUST LIKE...
I just saw the trailer for Alita: Battle Angel and I'm just like.... pic.twitter.com/0Baxk2TZWw— ✨💖D.J. @ ECCC Q12💖✨ (@OhHeyDJ) December 8, 2017
Alita: Battle Angel director Robert Rodriguez has explained the unusual choice to do live-action anime eyes in an interview with IGN Brazil: “The manga anime eyes that we’ve seen since the ‘30s and Astro Boy has never been done photorealistically.
So, usually, when we see an anime translated, it doesn’t feel like that...The early artwork I saw that Jim [Cameron] had, before it was even technically possible, had that in her [Alita]. It was so striking and so arresting, I thought, ‘My God, we have to do that. We have to be the first to bring a true manga and anime character to life.’” Still, was it a good idea? This facial expression says it all...
4 CALLING OUT 'FAKE WOKE TWITTER'
Fake woke Twitter is still trying to argue Battle Angel Alita’s big eyes as some form of white washing. Even though it’s a choice ripped from the pages and the typical look of an anime character. pic.twitter.com/86AJk87Y34— Prodigy (@maskedProdigy) December 10, 2017
The woke members of the Twitterati had a field day when Scarlett Johansson was cast to play the lead role in the live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell. Casting a white actress in a Japanese role was instantly called out as an act of whitewashing, and they did have a point.
However, some of those same critics have been trying to do the same thing to Alita: Battle Angel, calling the anime eyes a kind of cultural appropriation. This Twitter user points out that this is as ridiculous as it sounds, because anime characters’ eyes are not supposed to look like the eyes of real people.
3 A WHOLE MOVIE OF CGI TARKIN
"Give Alita a chance! the eyes represent blah blah blah"— 🏳️🌈 K a t e (@KateVsTheWorld) December 10, 2017
I see this the same as I would the idea of watching an entire film where the main character is CGI face Leia or Tarkin. Sometimes it just doesn't work.
This Twitter user compares the use of CGI on Alita’s face to the digital resurrection of Peter Cushing and de-aging of Carrie Fisher in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The scenes with those characters came off as creepy as they slipped into the uncanny valley and weren’t wholly convincing. But at least in Rogue One, it was just a handful of scenes.
In Alita: Battle Angel, it’s the lead character. Her name is literally in the title. It’s hard to invest in a character whose face is partly CGI – it’s like she doesn’t really exist. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work.”
2 BIG EYES 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO
Big Eyes (2014) dir. Tim Burton— Martin Kessler (@MovieKessler) December 9, 2017
Alita: Battle Angel (2018) dir. Robert Rodriguez pic.twitter.com/lOCrnaVqvm
This Twitter user compares Alita’s eyes to those in Tim Burton’s 2014 biopic Big Eyes, the true-life story of a man who took credit for his wife’s paintings of people adorned with the titular big eyes. He also cites the movies academically, giving the years they were released and the names of their directors, which is a degree of class higher than most tweets. Most tweets aren’t even spelt correctly.
Interestingly, both of these movies have Christoph Waltz playing supporting roles. Did he tell his agent to sign him on exclusively to projects that have characters with weird CGI eyes?
1 WATCH THE TRAILER AGAIN
Uk the more I watch the Alita Battle Angel trailer, the less the eyes really bother me. Instead I just notice how cool the rest of it looks, and it's hard to deny stuff like this gif is what works about anime. :3 pic.twitter.com/p2iCupnQPY— Stephen Shin (@stephenweirdy8) December 12, 2017
This Twitter user says that the more times they watch the trailer for Alita: Battle Angel, the less they are bothered by the CGI anime eyes. They just take some getting used to, that’s all. Once you’ve seen them enough to be used to them, you notice everything else going on in the movie.
Perhaps this would happen pretty early in the movie and, once you get past the eyes, you can enjoy the movie. Those eyes are an acquired taste, and once you’ve acquired it, you’ll see the awesome action hero behind the eyes and all the spectacular sequences she’s a part of.