This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with James Cameron, Alister Grierson, and Andrew Wright to discuss their upcoming man versus nature thriller, Sanctum, which hits 3D and 2D screens this Friday. As the video interview ended Cameron thanked me for coming in and I threw off a question about his long in gestation Manga adaptation, Battle Angel. I didn’t expect much of an answer, but he actually had something to say. Read on for the rest.
Collider: Hey, is Battle Angel still happening?
Cameron: I’m obviously going to be pretty busy for the next five years [with Avatar 2 and 3]. And so I had to consider, do I hand this project off to another director? And then I thought, ‘No, I love it too much.’”
I’m not a big fan of Manga but I read all of those books. My favorite was the love story in part two and the death games in the 3rd and 4th. Which of the stories are you going to do?
Cameron: It’s such a rich world. What I’m going to do is take the spine story and use elements from the first four books. So, the Motorball from books three and four, and parts of the story of one and two will all be in the movie.
Cool, I’m really excited for that.
Cameron: Me too.
For those who haven’t read the Manga series, Battle Angel Alita is the story of an android found in the dump by a scientist. He takes her home, repairs her, and begins to raise her like his daughter. But, when she discovers that during his off time her father has a habit of chasing wanted criminals around and decapitating them with a giant mallet to collect the bounty, she tries to join the family business. Soon, Alita discovers that something from her forgotten past has made her good at killing – very good.
Over the course of the series, Alita discovers her origin, fights against the dystopian world that leaves 90% to live in filth, while the elites live in splendor in a city in the sky, falls in love, and even ends up as a professional athlete in Motorball.
The inclusion of Motorball is a big reason for excitement. It’s kind of a cyberpunk remix of Rugby, Speed Racer and Death Race 2000 where the participants race on elaborate courses that most resemble roller coasters, complete with loop-de-loops, while trying to hold possession of a ball. Complicating matters is that racers are encouraged to kill whoever has the ball before that person can make it to the finish line.
Even in the comics, Motorball is unbelievably cinematic. I cannot think of a better set piece to let Cameron loose on, especially with the massive budget he can now demand. It has the potential to be a bloody, gripping spectacle unlike anything yet seen in live-action cinema, especially if Cameron re-teams with editor Mark Goldblatt. (Seriously, watch the LA River seen in T2 with the sound off, it’s a masterpiece of pacing and tension.)
Based upon my memory of the novels I would assume that the film will be structured to show Alita’s “father” finding her, her development into a bounty hunter and then her involvement in the Motorball games with the love story aspects of the second book used to give the film some emotional umph. Of course, this is purely speculation at this point.
More as we hear it. Have you read Battle Angel Alita? What do you think Motorball will look like on screen?