March 20, 2011

Movie Review: Battle Los Angeles

When the trailers first arrived for Battle Los Angeles, I thought we could be in for something special. I was not sure what it was going to be, but it looked like we were in for a what Independence Day should have been. Now, having seen the movie, I feel safe to say that it is not what I was expecting although I am not exactly sure what I was expecting. This was less science fiction and more Black Hawk Down. This is how you make a military movie on American soil without having to bring any other countries or terrorist organisations into the mix.

Battle Los Angeles is a movie that I was really hoping to love, but I just couldn't. Don't get me wrong, I certainly enjoyed it. This movie is a lot of fun, but it is little more than an action showcase of elements we have all seen before. Now, that is no inherently a bad thing, as not everything can be fresh and original. In cases of using the familiar, it all comes down to execution. With Battle Los Angeles we get all the familiar war elements and they are executed in a fast paced and exciting fashion. This was quite an enjoyable watch, just far from any sort of classic status.

As I sat there watching the plot play out I got the distinct feeling that I was watching a videogame, one that actually translates to the movie format. Seriously, I think a very good alternative title for this movie would be Call of Duty: Aliens at War. Watch the movie and tell me I'm wrong. Well, maybe don't do that, but I am sure will at least see where I am coming from. The opening sets the stage, starts the invasion, introduces your primary cast and sends out the call to action. It is not hard to picture this as a cut scene.

The early playable moments will have you reporting to duty as the guys in charge hand out assignments I swear I saw a note pop up stating "Mission Objectives." We continue along with the core team to the drop point where the mission starts and the action begins as our heroes move along a linear path to their goal and then on their way back.

It really is very videogame like with natural breaks in the action, a gradual upping of the stakes, and an ultimate hero moment where the tides turn in our favor en route to the climax.Again, it is not a terribly original or exciting story, but it is told quickly, and the characters may be caricatures but they are played with singular focus making it easy to go along for the ride.

The story, such as it is, has clusters of mechanical ships landing just of the shores of major cities around the world. The realization of the threat comes just a little too late to mount a terribly good offensive, although it goes well until the alien air support shows up. Our group of Marines turns into a group of survivors attempting to continue operating as a military squad as they work towards saving some civilians.

That is really all there is to it. We get minimal information abut the aliens, but the supposition is that they are hear to colonize. Our entry into the global battle is the localized efforts to save Los Angeles. Nothing more, nothing less. If you take out the aliens, this would look like any other military film.

Aaron Eckhart leads the cast as the grizzled veteran with a troubled past. It is a familiar role, but one that he seems well suited to. It takes an actor with a certain screen presence and credibility to pull of some of the things he has to say, and Eckhart certainly pulls it off.

As far as a technical side of he coin, the effects are bi spotty at times; for example, the aliens do not always feel as if they are there, note a pasting into the scene. There is also the time frame, they seemed to be out for a few days with no food or sleep, and the days and nights pass rather quickly. In the end, minor nits for a movie that is overall rather entertaining.


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Unknown said...

Battle Los Angeles: Big Brother's Latest Big Budget Brainwasher

Yesterday we used a gift card to go and see the new "Battle: Los Angeles" flick, a psyops collaboration between Pentagon war profiteers and TinselTown CGI geeks in which a Few Good Men accompanied by a couple of forgettable kids and hotbody has-beens Hoo-Rah their way from product placement to product placement in what is no doubt the first installment of a perpetual war for our planet's most precious resource (in this script water, not oil). Aside from making millions for Hollywood movie moguls, the purpose of this propaganda piece is to reverse the American military's real-world role as a resource aggressor and, during the suspension of disbelief, imprint on the minds of the audience that sacrificing our sons and daughters if not ourselves in an endless and ever-expanding war for riches and resource control is an honorable thing to do if not a patriotic obligation.

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