Archive for March, 2011

Movie Review: “Battle: Los Angeles” a soulless representation of everything wrong with action movies of today

Posted in Action, Movie Review with tags , , , , , , on March 17, 2011 by judsonw

The summer blockbuster movie season seems to start earlier each year than the last and 2011 is no different. The upcoming buffet of big budget special effects-laden movies starts off this year in early March with a plate of an alien invasion film entitled “Battle: Los Angeles.” The question is, will “Battle: Los Angeles” live up to past successful alien invasion blockbusters like “Independence Day” and “World of the Worlds” or fizzle like recent turkeys such as “Skyline?” Unfortunately, “Independence Day” could be considered a masterpiece next to this soulless and brainless mess of a movie.

“Battle: Los Angeles”, as can probably be guessed from the title, is about aliens invading the world, and the film focuses on the fight to save Los Angeles. If you’re looking for more detail than that, you won’t find it here. Thus lies the biggest problem with “Battle: Los Angeles.” There is absolutely no story to be found in the film. Characters are briefly introduced; the aliens attack, and the soldiers fight back. The film is very similar to a videogame, where instead of deep characterization and a coherent storyline, the viewers are essentially thrust into the middle of a battlefield. The problem is that here the audience is forced to sit and try to comprehend who is winning and losing, rather than taking part themselves with a videogame controller. The videogame comparison doesn’t stop there, however, because it’s very believable that “Battle: Los Angeles” was written by a 10-year-old gamer after a 12 hour Halo binge. The dialogue moves past simply being mediocre and becomes hilariously awful. With such gems as “I didn’t get this far because of my good looks” and “that was some John Wayne shit,” it’s hard to resist from bursting out laughing at the unintentional hilarity of it all.

Once the aliens make contact, the film becomes a non-stop action romp. In spite of this, the movie is still a bore to watch since the overreliance on shaky cam leads to hard-to-follow, headache-inducing action sequences. Five minutes into the first battle sequence, I already found myself dozing off. Because the film puts close to no effort developing memorable characters or a story, the action is the most important component of its success. With that being said, the movie fails miserably in that aspect.“Battle: Los Angeles” boasts some great acting talent from such actors as Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez, but unfortunately all that talent goes down the drain with a terrible script. Poor Rodriguez gets the brunt of the cringe worthy lines. It’s a wonder she was able to keep a straight face, uttering off lines such as “they’re going down like bowling pins!” It’s never a good sign when you can’t name a single character’s name after seeing a movie, but that is exactly what happened to me after seeing this disgrace of a film. Though some actual character development would have been appreciated, it doesn’t help when almost every character’s name starts off with the title “Staff Sergeant.” Despite the characters being extremely one dimensional, the film is desperate for an emotional response when one of them sacrifices their life or loses the battle against the aliens, even making it a purpose to throw in some cheesy saccharine music during the death scenes. A film that doesn’t earn my minimal interest will certainly not earn my tears.

The main draw for a film like “Battle: Los Angeles” would seemingly be the movie’s main villains: the aliens. Unfortunately, the film decides to barely focus on the world’s attackers, instead opting to spotlight some of the most dull and unsympathetic human characters put to screen in recent memory. When we actually do get a look at the aliens, they are briefly shown in the distance or out of focus. When they finally do get a close up, it’s hard not to be disappointed by their unmemorable and lazy design. Seeing the aliens in this film raised my appreciation for the effort and work behind such alien invasion films such as “District 9.” Much of the CGI and alien technology on screen here simply does not even measure up to today’s best videogames.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is merely a mediocre videogame posing as a summer blockbuster alien invasion movie. It follows the “Transformers” model, with a lot of loud action with little to nothing to get out of it all. The truth of the matter is that I’d rather spend two hours playing a videogame. At least that way I’d be able to make it an enjoyable and exciting experience, two qualities that “Battle: Los Angeles” does not posses.