– by Joseph Jammer Medina

The official trailer has dropped for Alita: Battle Angel, and I can tell you that it’s vastly different from anything I expected from Robert Rodriguez. Not only is it a lot less pulpy than I thought he was capable of producing, but Alita herself stole each shot of the trailer thanks to those damn eyes.

Rather than go the Ghost in the Shell route of having an actor take on the role of the character, it looks like they went the motion performance route with actress Rosa Salazar. The result is a character that jumps headfirst into the uncanny valley for a pretty creepy interpretation of the character.

What was the reason for them going this route? Speaking with Empire, Rodriguez said:

“It was always Jim’s intention to create a photo-realistic version of the manga eyes that we’re so accustomed to seeing. We really wanted to honour that tradition and see that look standing next to any human character. To have the right person to emote behind it was really essential. Her origins are in the film and you understand why she looks that way. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, we have some pretty big windows. You can see a lot going on in there! When it gets to the emotional scenes it’s really uncanny and striking. And captivating!”

Rodriguez has always been known to be a purist when it comes to the material he’s adapting. As such, it makes sense he and Cameron (who is incredibly dedicated to pursuing technology use in film) would work together to make something wholly unique.

The question is, does it work, or does it simply distract far too much? Well, at the very least, it has a lot of folks online talking, which is pretty good considering Alita isn’t the biggest property out there. It’ll get conversation points and curiosity going, if nothing else.

What do you think of the approach they took with the eyes? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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SOURCE: Empire

  • SaiyanHeretic

    I’m coming down on the side of “too much.” Anime is caricature, the characters aren’t meant to look like that in real life. If they wanted to make Alita look artificial, they could have gone the same route as Vision in the MCU: his face is still Paul Bettany’s, but they digitally smoothed his features, removing all the pores, winkles, and other natural imperfections. It’s subtle, but effective.

    • Bruce Norris

      Maybe, but would that be a retread of something already done? Something new has been added. We have to see how it plays out. Doing what’s been done is called…”safe”.

  • I can appreciate where he’s coming from. Still extremely off putting though lol

  • Kingsley Baconhausen

    “It was always Jim’s intention to create a photo-realistic version of the manga eyes that we’re so accustomed to seeing. We really wanted to honour that tradition and see that look standing next to any human character.”

    So, this project has been doomed from the start. I’m surprised a filmmaker with as much experience as James Cameron doesn’t get that the things that work in anime (big eyes, crazy hair, etc.) don’t translate to reality very well. I imagine that when Alita gets sad a big CGI teardrop will appear on her forehead? Or if she gets turned on blood will shoot uncontrollably from her nose? I mean, it works in anime, right?

    • Bruce Norris

      To be fair, we have to see the movie first.

    • Jamie

      James Cameron is old now and not in his prime.

    • Sad is squiggly lines. Do you even anime?

      • Kingsley Baconhausen


  • Looks dope. Too much pesimism in this comment section. Way too much for xmas season


    I’m all in.

  • randomironicname

    The eyes didn’t bother me. I know nothing about the property but thought the trailer looked intriguing. After reading their reasoning though I think it’s a bit goofy. Matching an artist’s style for any comic property would be odd. Can you imagine wasting CGI to make everyone’s ankle tiny in Deadpool2? or trying to make Peter Parker look like a MacFarlane drawing?

  • MrInuhanyou123

    the eyes bother me. big moe kawaii eyes are what i expect in anime and manga. And in Gunnm(BAA), every woman character has some variation of them. Trying to make Gally(Alita) special in that way is missing the point and doesn’t really have much to do with the character outside of her basic character design that the mangaka wanted to give her.

    Its like movie staff saw a picture of her original design and said “wow her eyes are so big, let’s put those in the movie!” without any other reasoning necessary outside of a shallow “faithfulness”. The original actresses’s face was more than cute enough for an adaption of Gally.. Instead the CGI model that substitutes her looks creepy even though Gally is not in any way supposed to be that.

  • It’s hard to take people’s complaints seriously about the eyes not looking realistic enough when there’s a dude in the trailer with ridiculously long chains flying out of his arms.

    • Jamie

      It’s not the eyes that don’t look realistic, it’s the character with the eyes. The long chain guy looks real enough.

  • King5twenty

    It is captivating. Its groundbreaking like always from Rodriguez.

  • The eyes are fine once you forget about Dobby after seeing her kick ass. They also work better than her pouty lips in the manga: “doll eyes” vs “octopus lips”.

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.