James Cameron Found A Surprising Way To Include Motorball In Alita

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If you’re a longtime fan of Battle Angel Alita, you have more to worry about with the movie adaptation than the backwards title. When word leaked that the film would be based on the first two books in the series, many longtime fans were concerned that we’d have to settle for an Alita movie without motorball, as that sport is introduced later in the series, but screenwriter James Cameron wisely jumped ahead.

“It wasn’t in the two books that [James Cameron] was adapting into the script, but he pulled it out of book three and four,” director Robert Rodriguez explained in a recent interview. “He said, ‘I think fans of the manga would be really upset if they got an Alita movie and there’s no motorball, and he found a really cool way to use it where they’re not even playing the game. They’re all just trying to kill her, which I thought was awesome because then it’s more character-driven.”

Rodriguez didn’t feel the need to explain (or even understand) the rules of motorball in Alita: Battle Angel, but it was crucial that he captured the appropriate sense of speed. “I did a bunch of speed tests really early on, just with some animatics in Austin, trying to figure out how fast they really needed to be going so that it would feel fast,” he said. “It was always described as being like a 100 mph… because the track doesn’t have a lot of discernible visuals, it just didn’t seem fast enough. So it’s more like 400 mph.”

Alita: Battle Angel races into theatres today. Check out the trailer below.