May 30, 2011

[Movies] Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)It's admirable how there are movie makers who are trying to innovate existing movie genres. Thus we have those attempts to try alternative spins on your typical mega monster movie or looking for new perspectives to take in a science fiction story. This kind of behavior is generally a good thing since it means people are actually trying to exercise their creative energies instead of just sticking to an established concept and switching some of the names around.

This doesn't mean all such attempts are great, mind you. But that's all part of the creative process, right? You need to crawl before you can walk and even then you're still going to stumble a bit here and there. I'm not sure how to classify this particular movie given that analogy, but I suppose we just might find out in the course of this review.

The movie is your classic case of trying to capitalize on something that is generally accepted as safe / popular. In this case, its the general support for the US military. We have seen similar stories with the likes of the Transformers franchise and their support for the US Air Force. While I don't these sentiments of support are universally accepted around the world, but in the end that's what the producers gambled on here.

Battle: Los Angeles is a 2011 science fiction war film directed by Jonathan Liebesman and written by Chris Bertolini. There was some controversy around the movie involving Greg and Colin Strause but that's not very important right now.

With a significant number of meteorites expected to hit Earth near many of the world's major cities. In time it's revealed that they're not actually meteorites but in fact alien spacecraft in disguise, but they realize this fact only once the meteorites have started to enter the atmosphere. A detachment of the U.S. Marines are dispatched to Los Angeles, California in order to assist with the evacuation of civilians from Santa Monica given the aliens have established a beachhead there.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 08:  (L-R) Producer Ne...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeThe group is commanded by 2nd Lt. William Martinez (Ramón Rodríguez), who is a fresh graduate The Basic School. He's joined by Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckart), who is an Iraq veteran who has the stigma of being the only surviving member of his squad. Despite the unit's unease with his presence as some sort of an unlucky charm but still the press on. They've been dispatched to secure a group of civilians holed up in a police station before they commence saturation bombing in the area. But the situation is a lot hotter than they expected given the alien's superior armament and technology, the relative difficulty in killing them and the changing military environment on the ground. Still they press on, trying to accomplish their mission.

This movie felt a lot like a slightly different spin on Cloverfield or Skyline. But instead of viewing the disaster from the perspective of civilians on the ground, instead we get to follow around the marines as they deal with the aliens. You'd think that this would mean that we would no longer have to deal with people dying in rather idiotic ways over and over again. But then apparently this isn't exactly one of the best military units given their rookie commander and the like, but still. They were pretty bad by all counts though and it was a small miracle they made it as far as they did in terms of the movie.

There was the modest attempt at establishing closer ties with the marines at the beginning with the usual snippets of their lives before the conflict, but really felt like modest pandering. Thus instead we end up following around a group of people that we have no emotional attachment to and thus their speedy deaths mean little to nothing. Even at the end of the movie, you still don't quite feel that you got to know the troops to any degree and thus the movie almost ends with a whimper.

There was a fair amount of inconsistency in terms of how the movie was presented. At first there was an attempt to keep the perspective on the ground in order to make you feel like you're among the troops. However there were quite a number of inconsistencies when we ended up seeing things from a more Hollywood perspective and that breaks the tone established. At least they never go quite as far as trying to follow the aliens around. This way they keep some sense of mystery in terms of the antagonists of the film although it is quickly established that the aliens are after Earth's water, of all things.

The movie really lost focus as it progressed. The plot just lacked true direction and the required emotional pay-off at the end. Despite the required climactic battle at the end, by then I didn't understand how we had managed to get to the end of the movie at all. I think the only reason I had to watch the movie and to eventually finish it was just to write this review. So much for that.

Battle: Los Angeles could have been a much better movie had they had a better story worked out. The actors weren't all too bad when you get down to it - they just had a bit of a bum job to deal with in this case. Thus the movie gets 2 fun robotic aliens bouncing around out of a possible 5.

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