Saturday, March 12, 2011


"Battle: Los Angeles" (2011)

"Battle: Los Angeles" is an embarrassment and a travesty of American cinema that unfortunately dominated the box office this weekend. Pegged as a realistic alien invasion flick, the movie is nearly two hours of incomprehensible chaos and destruction. Even if all you're looking for is Los Angeles to get blown up and leveled by aliens, look elsewhere. Director Jonathan Liebesman works on a grand scale all right creating a vast landscape of dust, rubble and debris, but that's all we get. Given its premise and all those explosions on screen, the movie manages to be a boring, ugly and inept exercise in careless monotony.

In the style of "District 9"--which looks like a full-blown masterpiece standing next to this--we're introduced through news reports playing in the background on TV sets that clusters of meteors are headed toward the earth in major cities all across the globe. A crew of marines is deployed in Santa Monica to take care of the foreign invaders. They're helicoptered in and immediately get attacked while traversing a landscape that is engulfed in smoke and flames. Although they're supposedly running around Santa Monica, they could be anywhere in the world, and we wouldn't know the difference; that's how horrendously the film is shot. The one potentially interesting part--the guerrilla-style shaky-cam cinematography--is botched terribly. Each insanely brief frame contains an incoherent mess of flashes and gunshots with maybe a character's profile yelling something loud in the forefront, all a result of lazy editing.

The characters--if you can call them that--are all nameless faces wearing a military uniform, their faces covered in blood, dirt and grime. Even the civilians the marines pick up along the way are bland and featureless. The only recognizable faces are Michelle Rodriguez looking tired and, God help him, Aaron Eckhart who somehow got trapped within this shambles of filmmaking. Tried as he did to make a performance, he couldn't get around terrible dialogue. In what was meant to be an uplifting motivational moment, Eckhart's hero, Staff Sgt. Nantz, delivers an unintentionally laughable monologue reeking of cheese.

Aside from this one moment, the rest of the movie's dialogue consists of one to two phrase-long shouts and guttural roars of anger or triumph. There's a macho "hoo-rah" bravado in everything the marines say that is sickening. They are a team of war movie clichés stampeding around as placeholders for storyline and characterization that is not there.

The movie strategically avoids talking about and showing the actual aliens--you know, the entire focus of the movie--as much as possible. I don't blame them, however, because once you see these things, you'll wonder to yourself why a big budget film like this couldn't get a better special effects team. From afar and clouded in smog the aliens look quite ominous, but up close they look like things created from leftovers in a junkyard with artillery attachments. Now, I understand leaving it open for discussion and not clearly explaining what the aliens want or how they work--à la "War of the Worlds"--but this movie doesn't even do that. It attempts an explanation but then drops it and never follows up.

The aliens are here for our water. They have a vulnerable spot to the right of their heart; shoot that to kill them. All of their spacecrafts look the same like floating piles of scrap metal, but some are more important than others. Do they get defeated? I couldn't even tell. Instead, the movie is too busy feeding us crap about the marines, honor, duty and servitude.

A video game would've done a better job presenting what "Battle: Los Angeles" abysmally failed at. After 30 minutes realizing there was nothing left for the movie to offer, I checked out and was impatiently waiting for it to be over. It's such a painful and unnecessary bombardment on the senses to the point of being unbearable and unwatchable. Worst of all, it didn't even make an attempt at humor or humanity. By the end I couldn't even differentiate the aliens from the humans because they all were so robotic. What easily could've been cool, fun, explosive alien action was turned into what I perceived to be a marines recruitment video, and that is the movie's biggest offense of all.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for being honest, though I believe Eckhart did play an impressive role. And who doesn't enjoy a wreckless disaster movie every now and then?