20 years after Guillermo del Toro first recommended manga series Gunnm from Yukito Kishiro to James Cameron, his passion project of an adaptation, Alita: Battle Angel, finally hits the big screen.

Inspired by Kishiro’s graphic novel, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic 26th century after a technological fall and follows cyborg Alita (performance-captured Rosa Salazar) who is discovered by machine-surgeon Ido (Christoph Waltz) in a scrapyard and resurrected with a new body. Alita initially remembers nothing of her past but as she discovers and explores the world of the Iron City, memories of her former life come back to her, as do her incredible skills and power.

Dogged with delays due to Cameron’s work on Avatar in the 2000s, longtime friend and director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) was handed the reins – and hundreds of pages of notes detailing Cameron’s original vision for the movie.

The world Rodriguez went on to build is a masterpiece of special effects (reportedly there’s more detail on Alita’s eyes than the whole of Gollum…) combined with real sets to create an immersive and impeccably realised cyberpunk aesthetic. Alita is a badass rebellious and empowered character who is also given depth and emotional nuance by Rosa Salazar despite the CG overlay and perhaps over-exaggerated manga-style eyes. The cast includes Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali as well as newcomer Keean Johnson.

We braved the cold on the blue carpet outside the brand spanking new Odean in Leicester square to speak with the cast and creatives behind the movie.

Director Robert Rodriguez spoke about why he wanted to make the film, what he thinks audiences will take away from it and the importance of strong female characters.

Rosa Salazar chatted about the extensive preparation she had to do to play Alita and her pride at representing Latinos through her central role in a film of this scale.

Christoph Waltz talked about what attracted him to being part of the film and his experience of working with such visionary filmmakers.

Yukito Kishiro also told us how it felt for his stories to be brought to the screen and how he sees the character of Alita.

Special effects expert Jon Landau, who also worked on Avatar and Titanic, told us about how they have pushed the boundaries of effects with the film and what the story has to say to about our society.

James Cameron, Jennifer Connelly and Dua Lipa explained what it meant for them to work on this picture.

By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 1st February 2019.
Videos: Marta Starczynowska

Alita: Battle Angel is released nationwide on 6th February 2019.

Watch the trailer for Alita: Battle Angel here: