Australian Council on Children and the Media

Alita: Battle Angel

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Not recommended for children under 15 and parental guidance to 18 (Strong violence and coarse language).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Alita: Battle Angel
  • a review of Alita: Battle Angel completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 February 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to strong violence, scary scenes and coarse language.
Children over the age of 15 Parental guidance is recommended due to strong violence and coarse language.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Alita: Battle Angel
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes, violence and coarse language
Length 122 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Alita: Battle Angel is a sci-fi movie based on the graphic novel series Gunnm by Yukito Kishiro. In the mysterious, utopian world of Zalem; in a junkyard on the outskirts of the rough and lawless Iron City, Dr. Ido (Christopher Waltz) comes across the head and torso of a young cyborg that he later repairs and names Alita (Rosa Salazar). Alita contains technology that hasn’t been seen in centuries and is a mystery to everyone including herself. Although Dr. Ido tries hard to protect Alita from the dangers of their environment and from the truth about her origins, Alita and her street-smart friend named Hugo (Keean Johnson) set out to discover who she really is. When caught in a surprise attack, Alita begins to have memories of her past life and demonstrates lethal fighting skills that serve her well as she encounters numerous bounty hunters sent by Vector (Mahershala Ali), the mafia-like head of a Motorball racing circuit, who is intent on killing her. With the help of Dr. Ido’s ex-wife Chiren, (Jennifer Connelly) who is also a cyborg surgeon, they create and modify their robotic bounty hunters into terrifying killing machines. Against all odds Alita must fight not only to save herself and her friends but to save the oblivious inhabitants of Iron City from a cruel and untouchable tyrant.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Crime; murder; and body harvesting.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is frequent and strong graphic violence in this movie, including:

  • Secondary characters are often killed by having their heads crushed or their bodies severed or dismembered in a variety of ways. Human blood is shown as red and cyborg blood as blue.
  • A young woman is murdered in the streets by a dark shadow carrying a scythe. This is common practice in Iron City.
  • Alita fights a group of bounty hunters as they threaten to kill her and Dr. Ido. She succeeds in destroying them all except one who vows to return and finish her off.
  • Alita tries to get support and unite the bounty hunters against a common enemy but winds up fighting them instead. A bar is nearly destroyed in the process and Alita is forced to face the modified killing machine on her own. She does her best but eventually her body is hacked to pieces. Dr. Ido manages to save her head and torso and regenerate her in another body.
  • In a Motorball race, Alita discovers that her competitors have been bribed to kill her. She must fight and destroy them. There are crashes, severed bits of cyborg and numerous close calls before she can eliminate them all.
  • Hugo, while still human, is stabbed by a bounty hunter and then beheaded.
  • Chiren tries to leave Vector and it is later shown that her brain and eyes and organs have been harvested and preserved in glass jars filled with liquid.
  • As a cyborg, Hugo’s body is torn to bits by a machine from the world above and, despite Alita's attempt to save him, his head and torso fall through the clouds back to Iron City.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are many scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Many of the cyborgs, especially the ones trying to kill Alita, are physically scary and intimidating. They have saws and blades for hands, or bits poking out of their faces.
  • Alita’s arm breaks off in the eye of a bounty hunter as she tries to continue fighting even after he has sliced her body into pieces. This is graphic and gruesome.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Dr Ido’s young daughter was murdered by a drug addicted cyborg that broke into their home. The instant of death was not shown but the terror on her face at the impending attack and the blood splattered wheelchair left behind were clear indicators of what took place.
  • A cute stray dog that Alita befriends is brutally killed when he tries to protect her. Alita smears her face with the dog’s blood before fighting a battle that ends with her body being chopped into pieces.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • When Alita enters a Motorball championship, she doesn’t realize that it is a trap and that all the contestants have been bribed to kill her. These cyborgs pull out all the stops trying to eliminate her and Alita must destroy them one by one in order to live. Dr. Ido is terrified for her and tries to warn her but is unable to do anything but standby and watch as the attack takes place.
  • Hugo is decapitated and Alita must use his severed head as proof of death.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Children over the age of thirteen may still find the above-mentioned scenes scary and disturbing.

Product placement

  • None of concern.

Sexual references

  • There are no overt sexual references, but female characters are often objectified.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Chiren is seen getting out of Vectors bed wearing a skimpy negligee.
  • Alita and Hugo kiss in the rain.
  • There is a scene in Hugo’s bedroom where he is not wearing a shirt.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Some characters drink in a bar. Vector meets with Hugo over drinks and Hugo appears hung over the next morning.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “Fuck” is used once in the film and there is infrequent used of the terms “bastard,” “prick,” “crap,” “bitches,” “badass” and “piss off.”.

In a nutshell

Alita Battle Angel is a sci-fi movie aimed at mature audiences.  This film will appeal to action and futuristic sci-fi fans. Although it has been classified as M, Parents should be aware that it is unsuitable for children under 15 due to the high frequency of graphic violence.

The main messages from this movie are to be true to yourself, to fight for what you believe in and to never give up.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Loyalty
  • Selflessness
  • Inner strength
  • Courage
  • Persistence

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Greed and the huge discrepancy between rich and poor.
  • Complacency in the face of injustice.
  • Organ harvesting and how this is actually happening in certain parts of the world today.
  • Lack of justice; and how violence was simply addressed with more violence.

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