Friday, March 11, 2011

Box Office Review - Battle: Los Angeles

When I bought my ticket for this film, the girl behind the counter jokingly asked if I was over fourteen. After watching the film, I think a better question would have been are you exactly fourteen. This is who the movie is made for. Fourteen year old boys who have spent more of their time playing video games like Call of Duty than they have doing anything else. Video games often steal things from films, and when I say often, almost every single M rated game does this. Battle: Los Angeles may be the first film that blatantly steals from video games. The result, is one of the worst viewing experiences I can remember.

The film starts by establishing the characters who make up the Marine outfit followed for the entire movie. By establish, I mean the film shows us stereotypes from every war film and video game. There is a young soldier who has never been in combat, a soldier about to be married, a twenty year man with a troubled past, the guy with a pregnant wife, and so forth. The opening, which is excruciatingly boring is supposed to bridge a connection between the characters and the audience. This fails completely, and not only did I not care about any of the characters, I had a hard time even telling them apart.

These soldiers are supposed to be deployed, I think to Iraq, but then a bunch of meteors hit, aliens show up, and its time to fight. There never is a reason behind the invasion, other than a few mentions on a news broadcast about the aliens needing water. These aliens look like...... a mess of things. That is really the best way to describe them. There are very few close-ups of the extra-terrestrials in the film, and those shots are insanely chaotic. Basically, they are a bag of liquid with around ten layers of skin. I know this because there is an impromptu alien autopsy scene about a quarter way through the film.

This autopsy is done, so that the main characters know how to kill the aliens. As the movie goes on though, their discovery that the aliens can be shot where the heart is, doesn't seem to matter. Sometimes the liquid bag aliens die instantly, and other times they get shot, and blown up, but keep moving.

Action set pieces make up the majority of the movie, and these scenes would not be out of place in any first person shooter. The group travels for a bit, they end up in a building, or on a highway and then the liquid bags attack. The humans and aliens fight for a while, an objective that will defeat the aliens presents itself, that objective is completed, rinse and repeat. This structure gets boring extremely fast.

Of all the problems that I have with the movie, none is more excruciating than the dialogue. When I play video games, I usually skip the cut scenes, because I hate the dialogue. This movie has that type of dialogue. The military talk involves sayings like, “this is not a drill”, “marines don't quit”, and a myriad of other horribly cliched sayings that I have wiped from my mind. Because the movie has soulless , and boring characters, the script tries to create emotion entirely through dialogue. Obviously this doesn't work. If I want inspiring dialogue, I'll re-watch Rocky Balboa (2006). Most of the pep talks involve how amazing America is, or how Marines are unstoppable and by the end of the film, I figured the first credit would say payed for by the American military. I'm all for patriotism, but when the enemies being fought are evil aliens, I am abandoning ship and heading for the hills.

When the original teaser for this film was released, it got me very excited. Whoever created that teaser deserves a serious monetary bonus as they made something that is an incoherent mess into something that looked impressive.

A Banana Peel

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