Cliché: Los Angeles
Battle: Los Angeles is fucking stupid. How’s that for an opening? I don’t mean that it’s horrible, I mean that it has absolutely no brain at any time. In order to talk about this movie, I need to talk about what happens. MOST of what happens. So you probably don’t want to read past the spoiler warning if you want to be fresh going into this.
Here’s the non-spoiler version: Battle: Los Angeles is SUPPOSED to be Black Hawk Down mixed with ID4. Which is such an awesome idea. The problem is that it doesn’t even begin to live up to the potential of that idea. I give this movie a 4/10.
Ok, so here’s what sucks (massive spoilers):
- The best part of any disaster or invasion movie is the beginning. You start with calm, every day life, and then there’s the “oh shit” moment. Better yet a few of them. Or leading up to one. Think Sphere (shitty movie, I know) when Norman gets choppered out to the ocean and slowly learns that he’s there for a spacecraft. Or ID4 as Will Smith putts around his house before going to get the paper. Every movie does this. B:LA starts with news reports from AFTER the war has started and with a squadron (do Marines roll in squadrons?) flying into battle. THEN they go back to the beginning. Durrr, you ruined the build up and reveal.
- They (the military) don’t know until the “meteorites” crash that they’re probably not natural. No. Shit. Do you know what the odds are of a meteorite of considerable mass crashing on the OPPOSITE side of the globe from another one at roughly the same time? Like one in a billion. And then to have MULTIPLE meteorites crashing JUST off the coasts of all the world’s major cities? Uh… Maybe they were aiming for a cover up, but how about ONE of the soldiers have a brain and point this out?
- The squad gets NO intel on the aliens. The COs would AT LEAST tell them that the aliens appear to be wearing very heavy armor and are firing incendiary rounds before sending them into a hot zone.
- You hardly see the aliens in the beginning because the director wants to tease you like Jaws or Alien. The problem with that is in those movies, you (the audience) don’t see the “monster” because the protagonist can’t see the monster. Here it’s just annoying cinéma vérité-style camera work that keeps you from seeing them. This same camera work (which is fine during the battle) is SUPER annoying when they use it while Aaron Eckhart’s character is having a talk with his commanding officer. ZOOM IN. ZOOM OUT. SHAKY CAM. PAN. ZOOM. ZOOM. PAN. Me: puke. It’s a normal conversation. Lock that shit down until you hit the front lines.
- AWFUL clichéd characters. Every single stereotype of a war movie is in here. Every one. Guy who’s a day or two from retirement: check. Guy who’s about to get married: check. Guy who’s a virgin: check. Guy with pregnant wife: check. Guy with haunted past: check. I’m not fucking kidding you. It’s like stereotype bingo.
- The world’s dumbest soldiers. You’re 30 seconds into battle. In empty streets and you KNOW there are FUCKING ALIENS around who want nothing more than to kill you. So what do you do? Talk loudly and joke around. I was losing my shit as these idiots crack wise about a dog’s name when they should have been looking out for FUCKING ALIENS.
- At one point they capture a live alien (oh hai, ID4) and start autopsying it (is it still an autopsy if the alien’s alive?) to find out how to kill it. This is how they do it: remove body part/body armor, stab, stab, stab. Next. Remove body part, stab, stab, stab. Next. Repeat until they get to the LAST body part (which is, you guessed it, the chest) and he stabs it and WATER comes shooting out. Because the aliens use our water as a power source so of COURSE their bodies run on water. Like ours run on oil. Then the dude is like, “that’s their weak point, just right of the heart.” ORLY?! So we should aim for CENTER MASS? Good, because I kept shooting at their feet, completely ignoring my training.
- Spoiler: Michelle Rodriguez plays a badass.
- Aaron Eckhart’s character calls an 11-year old “the bravest Marine I’ve ever known” while surrounded by actual Marines fighting and dying for him. I laughed out loud.
- Would it kill you to have a sniper with a .50 cal Barrett sniper rifle?
- The plan is to have an air strike because the humans have air superiority while the aliens have no aircraft. During the mission the alien aircraft arrive and they start wrecking shop. For some reason the soldiers are surprised when the airstrike doesn’t arrive. Dumbest. Marines. Ever.
I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot. There ARE some good things:
- Aaron Eckhart is cool. And dreamy.
- The idea is still solid. Black Hawk Down with aliens. You guys had it. You had it right in your hands and you fucked it up. Just make it a Navy SEAL team that has to traverse an infested zone to take out the aliens’ comm center. Duh.
- They don’t cut to the president getting a phone call and then saying something horribly cheesy, there’s no pop ballad at the end, and there’s no grating comic relief. In short: Michael Bay didn’t direct it.
- It takes place (but wasn’t filmed in) Santa Monica. So if you’re from LA you’ll get an extra layer of enjoyment in this 5-layer dip of disappointment as they talk about establishing a front at Lincoln and bombing everything between there and the beach. Delight as they visit Santa Monica airport. Nod knowingly as they travel down the 10. Perk your ears at the mention of Pico and Olympic.
Although I do find it strange that they don’t take a break from all the shooting to get sandwiches at Bay Cities Deli. I’m sorry, but you don’t go to Santa Monica in the day time without stopping for a sandwich at Bay Cities, I don’t care who’s trying to kill you. Unless the aliens invaded Monday. Bay Cities is closed on Mondays. I bet the aliens felt stupid.
- After Aaron Eckhart tells the useless little kid that he’s the bravest person to ever walk the Earth it’s not so bad. This is like the last 10 or 15 minutes. They show a lot of it in the trailers.
That’s about all I have to say for now. If you have to see this movie, see a matinee. If you wait for video or cable, you’re not missing much. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch District 9 so I can forget all about this movie. Again, 4/10. If you want to read someone that disagrees with me, one of my boys over at ScreenJunkies also saw it and actually liked it for some reason (of course, this is negated by my OTHER friend at SJ that I saw it with who HATED it, but he hates all sci fi movies except ID4, so take that as you will).