What's remarkable about Alita is how swiftly it introduces the audience to its world, offering layer upon layer of easily digestible exposition. Before you know it, you understand exactly what dire phrases like "before The Fall" mean, and what "URM" is. And when it's not building its world, the joys of this 70%-computer-generated film mean that the fights are actually coherent and fun to watch, the occasional slow-motion shot showing off just how intricate the art direction is. Alita finds out that she knows the lost martial art of "Panzer Kunst," which helps her handily defeat any bounty-hungry Hunter Warrior who tries to take her on. In the same vein, the Motorball sequences are some of the best animated race sequences since Speed Racer, yet darker and much more dangerous. The action is fast, yet the camerawork is precise enough that your eye never loses track of what's going on.
And that's saying nothing of the mechanical bodies the cyborg characters inhabit, which are seamlessly combined with their real flesh-and-blood faces, hands, legs. One warrior's back is inlaid with gleaming pieces of metal that look like a Mayan calendar. You forget that Rosa Salazar, whose face and body have been entirely replaced with animation, doesn't actually look like a person in a Margaret Keane painting. The new body Ido gives her looks carved from ivory and gold, and her face, instead of looking like a cutscene from a video game, moves and reacts like a real human face. The film is heavily advertised as being from the people who gave us Avatar (it was produced by James Cameron, who at one point wanted to direct it), and in some shots you can actually see sweat glistening from Alita's pores. It's as lifelike as animated cyborgs can get.