Hollywood has tried adapting Japanese manga and anime into live-action before and they haven’t done a good job at it, have they? They’ve tried so many times in the past with low-budget schlock like Guyver and Fist of the North Star to big budget bombs like Dragon Ball: Evolution and Ghost in the Shell. But that hasn’t deterred the folks over at the USA from adapting something that is totally embedded in Japanese culture to something more appealing to Western culture. 20th Century Fox is trying one more time with a live-action version with Alita: Battle Angel, which will be based on Gunnm in Japan and Battle Angel Alita in Western markets. They just released a trailer, so let’s take a look at it, shall we?
What was the first thing you thought of when you saw the trailer? Was it that it’s being produced by James Cameron, the very same guy who’s behind the first two Terminator movies, Titanic and Avatar? Was it that Robert Rodriguez, the man who gave us Sin City and From Dusk Til Dawn? Was it the fact that the cast is filled with big names and Acadamy Award winning actors and actresses? Was it that the city and the world looks really realistic?
Nah! You probably just focused on Alita’s creepy eyes! Well, that’s what I and millions of curious fans thought of when they first laid their eyes on the trailer. And who wouldn’t think they look off? They’re huge and out of proportion to her entire face. They’re also rather off-putting as there’s just something really unnatural about the way they look. They put a lot of work on the CGI as they do look like regular eyes but magnified to a ridiculous degree. Yet you can’t help but plunge into that uncanny valley of unpleasantness when you try to look at them.
People can’t help but focus on how frightening Alita’s eyes look and are giving up on seeing it because they can’t seem to handle it. There may even be enough uproar about the eyes that Fox will tell/order James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez to make her eyes more “normal” looking. It would certainly be easy to do since, well, I don’t think the actual actress who plays the female cyborg actually has eyes that big!
Strangely enough, I’m not one of those people. In fact, I think I would probably hate it if they changed Alita’s eyes to make her look more like a normal person. It’s not that I think she looks fine. On the contrary, I still get the heebie jeebies looking at her big, bulging eyes when I look at the trailer. But I think that, if they did make her eyes smaller, it would reduce her, and the movie, to something much more mundane and normal and probably not something worth watching.
I will admit that her bug eyes are off-putting but, in a strange way, I like it. It definitely makes Alita stand out among the rest of the characters that appear in the trailer. The ordinary humans, of course, have regular sized eyeballs but even the other cyborgs and robots, although you can definitely see a lot of cybernetics on the rest of their body, have normal looking eyes. Alita is different. Her eyes are different from everyone in the trailer, which, in my opinion, is a pretty cool visual to use to show that she is something special and unique. She’s definitely not human and she’s still different from the other cyborgs and robots that inhabit that world and I would want the film to instill the fact Alita is something special every chance they get. I guess giving her creepy eyes is one way to do it so I approve.
Besides, I don’t think anyone will complain about how strange and shudder-inducing they are if Alita: Battle Angel is actually a good movie. I don’t think her strange and nightmarish looking feature will spoil the movie in any way if they really make everything else work. Moviegoers may complain about them, sure. But if the film tells a great story, filled with fantastic action and great characters with a lot of personality, I’m betting most people will overlook how Alita’s eyes fall right smack dab in the deepest crevasse of the uncanny valley. In fact, the movie may actually change their minds about how strange the eyes look if its really good.
This actually brings me to my next point. Another thing that the people complaining about Alita’s bug-eyed look are overlooking is how “useful” it will be for her to actually express and convey emotions to the viewer. We all know the saying that the eyes are the windows to the soul, right? This essentially means that you can tell how a person is feeling just by looking at their eyes. You can even tell if they’re faking an emotion if you truly examine how someone’s eyes look like at any given moment. Well, I fully expect that a lot of attention will be given to her eyes, both by the guys doing the CGI for them as well as the viewer. The special effects team will undoubtedly put an incredible amount of detail to Alita’s eyes at any given moment to make sure they convey as much emotion as possible and the people that go see the movie will know exactly how she’ll be feeling at any given moment.
Now, I’m not saying it’ll be good, of course. That’s something we’ll have to see next year. But, until then, I’m willing to overlook Alita’s creepy bug-eyes and reserve judgement on Alita: Battle Angel until the movie comes out. I really hope Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron does a much better job of bringing this anime to the silver screen than the other anime adaptions we’ve gotten in the past. But I think we’re due for a win and I pray this will be the movie that actually does it, despite Alita’s creepy eyes.
Should Fox go ahead and alter Alita’s eyes to make them more normal looking? Or are you okay with they way they are right now? Let me know in the comments section below!