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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just Saw this Film at an advanced screening in Long Beach.
Battle: Los Angeles is the tale of Staff Sargeant Nantz' last day as a marine. Without spelling it out or drawing a diagram, the audience and the marine platoon we are following, are immediately deployed into Los Angeles for reasons they do not know. Soon we learn that indeed Aliens are landing off the shore of LA and killing everyone on the beach. The platoon we are following is sent on a mission to get some survivors from a gas station several miles from the coast. Generic movie ensues.
The film is shot like Bourne with epilepsy. I'm 21 years old and not too old to follow the action on screen, its just really, really, annoying when 80% of the shots are extremely herky jerky close-ups. There is not a single steady shot in the entire film. Not one. The intensity of the effect wears off right after the first alien is killed. After that the movie spiralled downhill deep, deep into the realm of the cliché. I'm going to name a few character's roles that are in this film, see if you can recognize them from other films you've seen. Experienced, hardened leader who gets a new platoon. Young officer straight out of officer's school who can't handle the action. Bad ass chick who can shoot. Soft and sweet nurse who gets picked up along the way. An Asian guy, a black guy, a white dude from the south, and a rookie make up the main part of the platoon. There is a scene where tension is high and its just a damn dog making noise. Start to see where this is going? This movie had some good things going for it. Its use of silence was well done. The blasting boom of the gunshots were startlingly realistic. The alien spacecrafts are awesome. The aliens themselves are pretty cool. Its just that the screenplay is terrible. SOOOOOO cliché in every way. This is your standard war movie just with Aliens. The ending is just as cliché as the rest of the film. Don't fool yourself into thinking it will actually be difficult to beat the aliens. 0 thought involved.
Hopefully Mr. Liebesman has better luck with the final product of Clash 2 than he did with this. Everyone I saw the movie with thought it was pretty bad. Movies like this that I totally enjoyed: District 9, Cloverfield, Avatar (somewhat), City of God (cinematography) and Blackhawk Down. All much, much better than this.
District 9 and the Bourne Identity had a really stupid baby.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie made Skyline look good! Maybe I missed a key part while I
was completely baffled that this is the movie they decided to make when
they had millions of dollars to spend. Why? Completely predictable, a
cast of characters nobody cares about, and we're required to suspend
belief time after time just to move the story along.
Aliens arrive and invade, but it's OK, they don't have air support. How did they get here then? They have very advanced weapons, but apparently have spent no time learning to aim. It takes lots and lots of bullets to kill the aliens at first, but after a while just one will make them explode. And any time our marines make a significant kill, all action stops so they can Hoo Raa each other and dance a bit. Nevermind the firefight, the aliens will wait.
Add in shaky camera work and this mess was virtually unwatchable. Maybe I still have a well developed attention span, so I need more than 10 minutes of action, some filler, 15 minutes of action, more filler, action, filler, lather rinse repeat end.
It's movies like this where I think we should be able to ask for refunds! Maybe punitive damages!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Poor character development and a worn out storyline make this a very
forgettable film. I really didn't care who or when the next death would
be. I probably wouldn't mind as much if at least one of the characters
had been an annoying ass but it seems everyone was a hero, which ends
up making nobody the hero.
I had no sense of dread from the alien invaders. In fact, if they had changed the aliens to an invading human army I think the film would have worked better. For all the special effects, the aliens might have well been cardboard cut-outs. It wouldn't have made them less interesting.
I came away from the cinema feeling like i had just watched a rather long advert for the marine enlistment division.
I saw this film the other day, and I actually really liked it. It was
exactly what I expected (maybe a little better). If you want to watch a
really well thought out film with lots of character development and
interesting subplots this is not the film for you. If you want to watch
a bunch of U.S. Marines beat the tar out of invading spacefreaks, then
this is the film for you. From when we first encounter the aliens to
sometime in the middle, the movie is a nonstop thrill ride. Stuff
explodes, aliens get splattered, humans get burned by lasers. In case
you didn't already suspect, this film is very violent. Although there
isn't a lot of blood, there are certainly a lot of deaths. The action
is unpredictable and zany. One minute everyone will be walking
somewhere between point A and B, the next, they're crouching behind
burned out cars and houses as aliens pour ungodly hellfire onto them
from above. The special effects were also quite good, with the
exception of a couple bad animations here and there. That being said,
the movie suffers when it slows down. The dialogue is poorly written,
and delivered decently, but not well. Aaron Eckhart however did a
wonderful job as a stony faced marine staff sergeant who keeps a cool
head when under fire. Most of the storyline is pretty standard war
movie/alien invasion stuff. You know, when after a bunch of fighting
everyone gets discouraged and then the leader gives a big motivational
speech and the inspirational music plays and everyone feels heroic.
So don't expect a masterpiece of modern cinema, expect alien guts and lots of shooting and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
I saw the movie trailer so I really didn't expect anything more than an
entertaining B rated science fiction flick. No need for spoilers (again
I saw the trailer). It was a pleasant surprise.
I actually saw a VERY entertaining kick @$$ A-/B+ rated science fiction movie. The plot was in the realm of possibility, given the circumstance. The characters seemed plausible, given the range of the actors. The action kept me on the edge of my seat. All good signs.
Personally, we need more science fiction movies. If you agree, and you don't require perfection in EVERY film viewing experience -- go see this movie.
Take it at face value and enjoy it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you are really looking to waste two hours of your precious life,
then feel free to give this piece of crap a try. It's awful... just
awful. The production company is called "Original Films", which is
ironic because there is absolutely nothing original about this movie in
any way. It is cliché after cliché. From a marine who wants to retire
being called in to a "one last job" scenario, to a kid loosing his
father and begging "please wake up" over heavy synthetic violins. It's
awful... just awful.
There is no objective, no plot, no story, nothing but flying bullets and low-fi "dancing" CG aliens. With the high budget of this movie you'd think that they could at least afford good looking CG. The animation and special effects in Terminator 2 were far superior... and that was made in 1991... 20 years ago!!
There's a simple game you can play with this movie. Whoever falls asleep first, wins. Yes, it's that boring.
But what is really depressing about this is the fact that Aaron Eckhart is a fantastic actor. It is a real mystery why he chose to be a part of this misguided production. He wasn't bad in this movie, either, but given the fact that there was no story, no character development, and soul-killingly lackluster dialogue, even his finely tuned chops weren't enough to make this movie entertaining.
I went into this movie with low expectations after the relative
disappointment which was skyline, a film that promised so much from the
trailer and delivered far less.
However, im glad to say any misgivings I had were quickly expelled. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't the greatest film ever made, and in many ways it fails to hold a candle to the likes of independence day, which in my opinion is one of the greatest films of its type ever made. It does however, bring a much more up close and personal aspect to an alien invasion. Its more like watching a war filmed in Iraq or something, but that in itself is what separates it from a muddle of recent alien invasion movies that fails to ignite any kind of fire in the mind.
The film moves at an unrelenting pace, with good action sequences and cgi to boot, its predictable at times and the ending fails to come up with something clever or original, but hey ... you cant have everything !!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is an ageing soldier who
is set for retirement. In his previous tour of Iraq he was one of the
only survivors in his unit and speculation surrounds what happened to
his men. When an alien invasion strikes the Earth however, he is
brought back into the action to help lead a group of young and
inexperienced soldiers. One of them is set to be married and another is
expecting the birth of his child. As the rest of the Earth seems to be
defeated, Los Angeles remains as one of the last posts. With the help
of some civilians including a father and son, a veterinarian (Bridget
Moynahan) and also TSgt. Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez), the unit
works to clear out the city, moving towards an extraction point, before
the area can be bombed out.
Calling Battle: Los Angeles the equivalent of a video game would be giving it too much credit. Jonathan Liebesman's irredeemable sci-fi action film is the antithesis of 2010's Monsters. This is an unoriginal, primitive and mindless recruitment video for the Call of Duty and MTV Generation. The soldiers here, armed with high powered assault weapons, don't so much act as scream grunt speak and backslap each other in a bid to look and sound cool. Take note of pop singer Ne-Yo's casting and Michelle Rodriguez as a hardened fighter. Big stretch. But video game enthusiasts would be better served sticking to the virtual battlefield because the shabbiness of this picture is one of its few surprises. Shaky cam makes an unwelcome return here, with framing so ridiculously tight in the opening stages that the camera seems to be attached to the actors' heads. Later battles are dismally over edited with rapid fire cutting that the film is indecipherable about who is being blown up. Forget about characters or development because by the first gunfight the scriptwriter already has too. There is no urgency or tension as we have no one to barrack for. As a viewer you're expected to catch flies as you admire explosion, after explosion, after explosion.
The entirety of the film, save for some painfully rushed and clichéd exposition, is made up of overlong battle sequences and standoffs. Moments of sacrifice and 'you go on without me' pleas, are unmoving and do little to compensate for the lack of narrative. Restricting the perspective of the film to a single military unit also means that there is little conception about the rest of the invasion. Only brief news headlines on the televisions give minimal information, like how the aliens are scavenging our water. Point being, the film seems more interested in being loud, rather than in the science, the aliens or even the human reactions. The cynic in me suggests that you see very little of the aliens up close because of how unconvincing they are. From afar they look like they're made from scrap metal. Try not to laugh as Nantz carves one up like a Christmas ham, looking for a weakness. What makes this more poisonous than other incompetent action films is the increasing transparency of the film's pro-military agenda. Along with the compassionless violence, the message seems to be that you're never too young or too old for the military. Luckily, Eckhart has a face made out of granite because it must be the only way he can keep it straight when spouting embarrassing propaganda like 'marines don't quit' and telling a little boy, 'I need you to be my little marine'. I found that and Battle: Los Angeles success at the US box office (it debuted at number one) to be scarier than any alien threat. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
From watching the TV trailers for this film, I was expecting a pretty
fast paced, alien invasion, action flick. If I judged films on this
alone, it would get full marks. However, I was left feeling quite left
down by this film.
The over-abundance in cheesy lines, frankly annoying camera work, and massively predictable scenes could have been forgiven if this film had been a "b" movie, as that's what we have grown to expect from that genre. Also, despite the film being quite action packed from the get-go, I found that it dragged on and on, and definitely could have been better if it was at least a half-hour shorter.
To expand a little on the camera work, it is very jumpy with jerky motion and features repetitive amounts of "fast-zoom-in-really-close" style "effect", which is OK in some situations, but it does get massively overused in this flick. Another overused "effect" is the "looking-down-the-scope-trying-to-find- an-enemy" effect. By mid-way in the film, I wish I had actually started counting how many times this view was used, as I'm positive it was in double-figures. I know these effects can add to the feeling you're there with the heroes, but when it's just the same effect of looking down the sight at some smoke and concrete rubble, looking for shadows, over and over again, you tend to get put off it quite quickly.
The SFX are "ok". There is a heck of a lot of it in the film (as you'd expect, given the plot), and whilst some of the models are quite well detailed and could pass as believable, some of them are frankly amateurish - especially when zoomed in on (for instance, you can clearly tell that some of the "3d" metal work is simply textures on a flat surface, which offer no depth or moving light), which ruins the scene for you, as you can't help but notice it's a model, rather than some alien hardware.
Talking about the script now, I cannot convey to you just how much cheese is spouted by the actors in the film. I swear you can even see the anguish on Aaron Eckhart's face as he reels out yet another corny, predictable, and frankly unrealistic one-liner. It honestly gets to the point, where you're laughing at just how bad it gets at some points. It is extremely "B" movieish, which would be fine IN a "B" movie. However, this film is touting itself as a mainstream, high budget, serious action flick, where this sort of poor script writing shouldn't be found. In films like Independence Day, where they inject humour, light- heartedness and a "don't take it seriously" ambiance throughout, this script may well have worked - even been quite funny. But sadly, this is putting itself in with films like District 9 (Alien angle)and Black Hawk Down (Close combat / Brotherhood of men angle) and it really isn't in the same league as either.
Which just leaves the plot, which sadly is overly predictable and doesn't offer much in respect to tension, suspense or twists, but instead gives predictability, repetitiveness and sadly nothing new. Whilst it is constantly moving forward, and rarely breaks from the action, you can't help but feel that the film starts to drag.
To summarize, if it was a "B" movie, it would have been a pretty darn good one. However, since it's touting itself as a Action Thriller, I'm afraid it doesn't rate highly once you compare it to other offerings in the same genre - even if you go back ten years!
For those of you that do want to see it, I strongly recommend waiting for the DVD release to come out, then be discounted, before buying.
The alien invasion film is certainly nothing original. Recently, and
upcoming, I can think of no less than 4 film and TV versions of this
basic tale. Battle: Los Angeles doesn't bring anything new, plot wise,
to this scenario. In fact, it operates on the thinnest of plot and some
very underdeveloped characters. The only somewhat unique aspect, at
least for an alien invasion story, is its gritty "you are there"
aspect, filmed in a hand-held, jerky, thick of the action style. This
isn't revolutionary either, but Battle: Los Angeles does manage to
squeeze some momentum out of its running length.
As mentioned above, Battle: Los Angeles' plot can be summed up rather succinctly: Aliens land on Earth throughout the globe, including near Los Angeles. This alien force, operating with ground forces, begins to overrun the various cities they arrive at, and LA is no different. A squad of marines, led by Staff Sergeant Nantz (Aaron Eckhardt) is dispatched to attempt to retrieve possible civilian presence from a Santa Monica police station behind the front lines of the fighting. They encounter heavy resistance, and must find a way back to their forward operating base while keeping the civilians under their protection, and themselves, alive.
Battle: Los Angeles is obviously influenced, visually, by movies such as Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan in the staging of its action. Much of the film is photographed with hand-held camera moves, the focus constantly whipping around, disorienting both the characters and the audience. While the technique is hardly unique, it does work to a degree in Battle: Los Angeles, bringing a different approach to a familiar plot. This isn't about scientists trying to figure out what the aliens want, or politicians wringing their hands about the "big decisions" in the midst of an alien onslaught. Battle: Los Angeles keeps its focus exclusively on the soldiers in the thick of battle, presenting the action in a no-holds barred manner. It is refreshing, at least from that perspective, to see a harder-edged, more realistic take on this material.
On the other hand, Battle: Los Angeles is a bit weak on the character front. The most development is given to Sergeant Nantz, who had just recently returned from a tour in Iraq where lives were lost and many assume he was to blame. This plays into several moments in the film, influencing other characters regarding the decisions he makes during the events of the story. Beyond that, aside from a few obligatory references to someone's relative or background, none of the other characters see much development. Physically, they are different enough to stand out from one another, but they are all mostly blank slates. There isn't complete detachment from the audience, several moments have some resonance emotionally, but not as much as if the filmmakers had taken some time to flesh the people out a bit more.
Battle: Los Angeles also suffers from being a bit overlong, and it's relentless, action oriented approach means that a lot of similar scenes play out over and over again: Marines trapped in combat, things don't look good, a character makes a choice or sacrifice, they manage to subdue their attackers, and then the film moves to the next scene in this same format. There is also little or no development of the alien menace. Snippets of television coverage featuring scientific experts fills in a little of the backstory to them, but it is mostly incidental. However, Battle: Los Angeles is not created in that style, it is about the action going on with the marines in the thick of it, and stays in that mode.
Aaron Eckhardt proves again his ability to sell a character, and he imbues Sergeant Nantz with a vigor and a degree of weariness that you buy into. Most of the other actors do a decent job of making us believe in these people as Marines in the thick of combat. A few recognizable names take roles, including Michele Rodriguez as an Air Force tech who joins up with the Marines and Bridget Moynihan as a civilian they are trying to protect, but neither has much to work with in regards to their characters other than to look tough or scared, respectively.
Battle: Los Angeles is certainly no masterpiece. It doesn't deviate much from the alien invasion template in regards to the broad strokes of its plot, and the style it was filmed in has been pioneered by other films. That being said, the film is engaging enough, and applies its style to a source material in a way that at least gives a different perspective on a familiar narrative framework. That doesn't make for a tremendous film, but not one that is completely in need of avoidance by the filmgoing public.
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