Thursday, March 24, 2011

"S**t, I'd rather be in Afghanistan."

 Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

If you follow me on Twitter or have read my personal Facebook wall then you already probably know my opinion about this movie in a few short sentences. But a couple short sentences don't cut it here so I'll elaborate in greater detail. Battle: LA is a loud, obnoxious, dimwitted, poorly paced, sci-fi action thriller that has terrible acting, piss poor writing, heavy handed symbolism, non-existent characters, terrible special effects and is seemingly shot by the guy who did the Bourne series after he's taken speed. That said it has amazing, edge of your seat, intense and fulfilling action scenes that, while disorienting, are hard to take your eyes off of. And for that I can't really hate the movie. Fundamentally there is SO much wrong with it that the jaded critic in me wants to throw this under the bus, but the 20 year old guy who loves action movies in me can't get enough of it. My opinions are almost as mixed as the reviews it seems.
 The plot is about as deep as a petri dish but, in the film's defense, it does it's job and doesn't try to complicate things. One day a bunch of meteors fall from the sky and hit Earth. Turns out these "meteors" weren't really meteors at all and instead are spaceships filled with aliens. And these aliens want our water...bad. They don't want to negotiate, they don't want to talk, they just want to get the water and kill everything that comes within a country mile of them. While most countries and cities are devastated Los Angeles seems to be still hanging on by a thread. The military's plan, at least with LA, is to set up a Forward Operating Base (FOB), rescue any civilians still in the city, and then blow everything to pieces. The Marines get stuck with the rescue operation and send Staff Sargent Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), an aged veteran who has a bad reputation for getting people killed, 2nd Lieutenant Martinez, a young but bright soldier, and about a half dozen so characters that are basically nameless (they ARE named but it's hard to keep track of who's who) and are only distinguished by a certain trait (guy from New Jersey, African doctor, black guy with glasses ect) and fight off these aliens in what's basically a suicide mission.
 I gave this synopsis more thought than the movie ever did, that's for sure. Basically it's "AHH LOUD YELLING *SWITCH ANGLES* LOUD YELLING *SWERVE INTO A NEW SHOT* ALIENS!! *BANG BANG* LOUD YELLING." It's borderline incoherent. It's also confusing to look at since it keeps switching directions every five seconds. At one point I thought one character was dead only to realize during a slow moment that he was still alive and that someone else had died. That's never good. I also have the sneaking suspicion that this was written in a day and in all caps. If it wasn't then he never should work in Hollywood again. It doesn't help the acting is stiff at best, unbearable at worst. When a R&B/Hip Hop artist is one of your best actors you have a problem. Eckhart tries his hardest but at his best comes off as overly cheesy and hokey. Michelle Rodriguez and Ramon Rodriguez do okay but nothing special. Michael Pena has a good scene towards the end but it's short and bittersweet.

But with all the negative I have shoved at the film there is one giant positive: the action. It's intense, gripping and it seems like the only time the faults work in favor of the film instead of against it. I was engaged the whole time I was watching the action scenes but I'd be a liar if I didn't groan a little when each one was over, knowing that a talking scene would be coming up next. 
Battle: Los Angeles is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination. If you are willing to sift through the crap and deal with all the fundamental problems this film has on a basic level (writing, shooting, acting, directing) then you will find the diamond in the rough known as the action scenes. It's not much of a consolation but they are entertaining and worth watching, if nothing else in it is.


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